Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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The Upper Snake River represents one of the largest remaining strongholds of Yellowstone cutthroat across its native range. Understanding the effects of restoration activities and the diversity of life-history patterns and factors influencing such patterns remains paramount for long-term conservation strategies. In 2011, we initiated a project to quantify the success of the removal of a historic barrier on Spread Creek and to evaluate the relative influence of different climate attributes on native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and non-native brook trout behavior and fitness. Our results to date have demonstrated the partial success of the dam removal with large, fluvial Yellowstone cutthroat trout migrating up Spread Creek to spawn, thus reconnecting this population to the greater Snake River metapopulation. Early indications from mark-recapture data demonstrate considerable differences in life-history and demographic patterns across tributaries within the Spread Creek drainage. Our results highlight the diversity of life-history patterns of resident and fluvial Yellowstone cutthroat trout with considerable differences in seasonal and annual growth rates and behavior across populations. Continuing to understand the factors influencing such patterns will provide a template for prioritizing restoration activities in the context of future challenges to conservation (e.g., climate change).