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Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2014

Open-File Report 2015-1189

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By:
, , , and
https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151189

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Executive Summary

Data from a long-term capture-recapture program were used to assess the status and dynamics of populations of two long-lived, federally endangered catostomids in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Lost River suckers (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) have been captured and tagged with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags during their spawning migrations in each year since 1995. In addition, beginning in 2005, individuals that had been previously PIT-tagged were re-encountered on remote underwater antennas deployed throughout sucker spawning areas. Captures and remote encounters during the spawning season in spring 2014 were incorporated into capture-recapture analyses of population dynamics.

Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) open population capture-recapture models were used to estimate annual survival probabilities, and a reverse-time analog of the CJS model was used to estimate recruitment of new individuals into the spawning populations. In addition, data on the size composition of captured fish were examined to provide corroborating evidence of recruitment. Model estimates of survival and recruitment were used to derive estimates of changes in population size over time and to determine the status of the populations through 2013. Separate analyses were conducted for each species and also for each subpopulation of Lost River suckers (LRS). Shortnose suckers (SNS) and one subpopulation of LRS migrate into tributary rivers to spawn, whereas the other LRS subpopulation spawns at groundwater upwelling areas along the eastern shoreline of the lake.

In 2014, we captured, tagged, and released 496 LRS at four lakeshore spawning areas and recaptured an additional 970 individuals that had been tagged in previous years. Across all four areas, the remote antennas detected 6,370 individual LRS during the spawning season. Spawning activity peaked in April and most individuals were encountered at Cinder Flats and Sucker Springs. In the Williamson River, we captured, tagged, and released 3,038 LRS and 267 SNS, and recaptured 762 LRS and 156 SNS that had been tagged in previous years. Remote PIT tag antennas in the traps at the weir on the Williamson River and remote antenna systems that spanned the river at three different locations on the Williamson and Sprague Rivers detected a total of 23,446 LRS and 6,259 SNS. Most LRS passed upstream in the first and second weeks of April when water temperatures were increasing and greater than 10 °C. In contrast, upstream passage for SNS occurred in two pulses, one in early April and one in late April to early May, when water temperatures were increasing and near or greater than 12 °C. Finally, an additional 375 LRS and 884 SNS were captured in trammel net sampling at pre-spawn staging areas in the northeastern part of the lake. Of these, 111 of the LRS and 390 of the SNS had been PIT-tagged in previous years. For LRS captured at the staging areas that had encounter histories that were informative about their spawning location, 79 percent of the fish were members of the subpopulation that spawns in the rivers.

Capture-recapture analyses for the LRS subpopulation that spawns at the shoreline areas included encounter histories for more than 13,200 individuals, and analyses for the subpopulation that spawns in the rivers included more than 36,400 encounter histories. With a few exceptions, the survival of males and females in both subpopulations was high (greater than 0.88) between 1999 and 2012. Notably lower survival occurred for both sexes from the rivers in 2000, for males from the shoreline areas in 2002, and for males from the rivers in 2006 and 2012. Between 2001 and 2013, the abundance of males in the lakeshore spawning subpopulation decreased by at least 55 percent and the abundance of females decreased by at least 42 percent. Capture-recapture models suggested that the abundance of both sexes in the river spawning subpopulation of LRS had increased substantially since 2006; increases were mostly due to large estimated recruitment events in 2006 and 2008. We know that the estimates in 2006 are substantially biased in favor of recruitment because of a sampling issue. We are skeptical of the magnitude of recruitment indicated by the 2008 estimates as well because (1) few small individuals that would indicate the presence of new recruits were captured in that year, and (2) recapture probabilities in recruitment models based on just physical recaptures of fish were lower than desired for robust inferences from capture-recapture models. If we assume instead that little or no recruitment occurred for this subpopulation, the abundance of both sexes in the river spawning subpopulation likely has decreased at rates similar to the rates for the lakeshore spawning subpopulation between 2002 and 2013.

Capture-recapture analyses for SNS included encounter histories for more than 19,200 individuals. Most annual survival estimates between 2001 and 2012 were high (greater than 0.80), but SNS experienced more years of low survival than either LRS subpopulation. Annual survival of both sexes was relatively low in 2004, 2010, and 2012. In addition, male survival was low in 2002. Capture-recapture models and size composition data indicate that recruitment of new individuals into the SNS spawning population was trivial between 2001 and 2005. Models indicate that more than 10 percent of the population was new recruits in a number of more recent years. As a result, capture-recapture modeling suggests that the abundance of adult spawning SNS was relatively stable between 2006 and 2010. We are skeptical of the estimated recruitment in 2006 because of the known sampling issue. We also are skeptical of the estimated recruitment in other recent years because few small individuals that would indicate the presence of new recruits were captured in any of those years, and recapture probabilities in recruitment models were low. The best-case scenario for SNS, based on capture-recapture recruitment modeling, indicates that the abundance of males in the spawning population decreased by 77 percent and the abundance of females decreased by 73 percent between 2001 and 2013. Decreases in abundance for both sexes likely are greater than these estimates indicate.

Despite relatively high survival in most years, we conclude that both species have experienced substantial decreases in the abundance of spawning adults because losses from mortality have not been balanced by recruitment of new individuals. Although capture-recapture data indicate substantial recruitment of new individuals into the spawning populations for SNS and river spawning LRS in some years, size data do not corroborate these estimates. As a result, the status of the endangered sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake remains worrisome, especially for shortnose suckers. Our monitoring program provides a robust platform for estimating vital population parameters, evaluating the status of the populations, and assessing the effectiveness of conservation and recovery efforts.

Suggested Citation

Hewitt, D.A., Janney, E.C., Hayes, B.S., and Harris, A.C., 2015, Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1189, 36 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151189.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2014
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2015-1189
DOI:
10.3133/ofr20151189
Year Published:
2015
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
Description:
iv, 36 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Oregon
Other Geospatial:
Upper Klamath Lake
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N