Fish tag recovery from Anaho Island nesting colony, Pyramid Lake, Nevada

Open-File Report 2015-1242
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By: , and 



In 2001, tags applied to the federally endangered species cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus) to study their population dynamics were discovered strewn throughout the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) nesting colony on Anaho Island, Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Cui-ui are endemic to Pyramid Lake, and Anaho Island harbors one of North America’s largest nesting colonies of American White Pelican. Cui-ui are consumed by pelicans during the fish’s spring migration into the Truckee River to reproduce. The predatory success of pelican has been validated by determining the odds of finding a tag from a predated cui-ui within the Anaho Island nesting colony. It is unknown how many cui-ui tags are eliminated by birds before arrival to the colony versus how many are brought to the colony but never recovered. The focus of this study was to improve the estimate of the chances of collecting a tag from a predated adult cui-ui in the pelican nesting colony by feeding dead tagged Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) to pelican and subsequently searching for these tags within the colony. We also randomly deployed 1,000 dispersal tags throughout the nesting colony, searching for these after one and two breeding seasons. After adding 1,027 fed fish to 547 previously fed fish, we estimated 5.3 percent of the tagged cui-ui taken by pelican were recovered during tag searches. A study of dispersal tags randomly deployed within the pelican nesting colony showed that 51.5 percent would be expected to be recovered after at least one breeding season after being deployed. Results of our studies indicate that more than 90 percent of tags from adult cui-ui are eliminated by birds outside the pelican nesting colony. Tags recovered from other species and the site at which they were tagged are also reported. Most notable were recovered Lahontan cutthroat trout tags, which were the highest in number, but their proximity to double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) nests suggests this species to be the primary predator. Tags from other species of fish came from as far as the Columbia River, Washington (about 600 kilometers). This study provides an important baseline for future tag recovery from the pelican nesting colony on Anaho Island and opens new questions to American White Pelican movement patterns.

Suggested Citation

Scoppettone, G.G., Fabes, M.C., Rissler, P.H., and Withers, Donna, 2016, Fish tag recovery from Anaho Island nesting colony, Pyramid Lake, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1242, 28 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Description of Area
  • Material and Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Fish tag recovery from Anaho Island nesting colony, Pyramid Lake, Nevada
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2015-1242
DOI 10.3133/ofr20151242
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description Report: iv, 28 p.; 1 Appendix
Country United States
State Nevada
Other Geospatial Anaho Island, Pyramid Lake
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details