Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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Habitat degradation and introduction of non-native salmonids have caused substantial declines in abundance and distribution of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Additionally, global climate change is expected to exacerbate current threats through changes to thermal regimes, hydrology, stream productivity, and distributions of non-native species. Understanding how factors such as climate and local stressors (e.g., non-native species) interact to affect Yellowstone cutthroat trout is critical for developing management strategies to enhance future persistence. However, research investigating relationships among these factors and life history characteristics and vital rates of Yellowstone cutthroat trout is lacking. To address this need, we examined the influences of temperature, streamflow, food availability, and presence of brook trout on life history characteristics of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Spread Creek, Wyoming. We used passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and a combination of stationary and mobile PIT tag antennae within a capture-recapture framework to monitor growth, movement, and survival of Yellowstone cutthroat trout and brook trout throughout the Spread Creek drainage. Considerable differences existed in frequencies of movements between species and among tributaries. Significant differences existed among growth rates of trout in three tributary streams. Preliminary results suggest the observed differences were driven by the complex interactions of streamflows, fish densities, and prey abundances, rather than stream temperatures. We discuss our results in the context of maintaining diversity of life-history patterns within watersheds as a means to increase metapopulation resiliency. Our findings provide critical information needed to refine climate risk assessments and to better direct limited resources to ensure the long term persistence of the subspecies.