Aquatic Research Section

Colorado City, CO, United States

Aquatic Research Section

Colorado City, CO, United States

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Hodge B.W.,Trout Unlimited | Battige K.D.,Colorado Parks and Wildlife | Rogers K.B.,Aquatic Research Section
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2017

Mobile species will migrate considerable distances to find habitats suitable for meeting life history requirements, and stream-dwelling salmonids are no exception. In April–October 2014, we used radio-telemetry to examine habitat use and movement of 36 Colorado River cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus (CRCT) in a 14.9-km fragment of Milk Creek, a relatively low-elevation stream in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado). We also used a network of data loggers to track stream temperature across time and space. Our objectives were to (1) characterize distribution and movement of CRCT, (2) evaluate seasonal differences in distribution and movement of CRCT, and (3) explore the relationship between stream temperature and distribution and movement of CRCT. During the course of our study, median range of CRCT was 4.81 km (range = 0.14–10.94) and median total movement was 5.94 km (range = 0.14–26.02). Median location of CRCT was significantly further upstream in summer than in spring, whereas range and movement of CRCT were greater in spring than in summer. Twenty-six of the 27 CRCT tracked through mid-June displayed a potamodromous (freshwater migratory) life history, migrating 1.8–8.0 km upstream during the spring spawning season. Four of the seven CRCT tracked through July migrated >1.4 km in summer. CRCT selected relatively cool reaches during summer months, and early-summer movement was positively correlated with mean stream temperature. Study fish occupied stream segments in spring and fall that were thermally unsuitable, if not lethal, to the species in summer. Although transmitter loss limited the scope of inference, our findings suggest that preferred habitat is a moving target in Milk Creek, and that CRCT move to occupy that target. Because mobile organisms move among complementary habitats and exploit seasonally-unsuitable reaches, we recommend that spatial and temporal variability be accounted for in delineations of distributional boundaries. © 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Baerwald M.R.,University of California at Davis | Petersen J.L.,University of California at Davis | Hedrick R.P.,University of California at Davis | Schisler G.J.,Aquatic Research Section | May B.,University of California at Davis
Heredity | Year: 2011

Whirling disease, caused by the pathogen Myxobolus cerebralis, leads to skeletal deformation, neurological impairment and under certain conditions, mortality of juvenile salmonid fishes. The disease has impacted the propagation and survival of many salmonid species over six continents, with particularly negative consequences for rainbow trout. To assess the genetic basis of whirling disease resistance in rainbow trout, genome-wide mapping was initiated using a large outbred F2 rainbow trout family (n=480) and results were confirmed in three additional outbred F2 families (n=96 per family). A single quantitative trait locus (QTL) region on chromosome Omy9 was identified in the large mapping family and confirmed in all additional families. This region explains 50-86% of the phenotypic variance across families. Therefore, these data establish that a single QTL region is capable of explaining a large percentage of the phenotypic variance contributing to whirling disease resistance. This is the first genetic region discovered that contributes directly to the whirling disease phenotype and the finding moves the field closer to a mechanistic understanding of resistance to this important disease of salmonid fish. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Kopack C.J.,Aquatic Research Section | Kopack C.J.,Colorado State University | Dale Broder E.,Colorado State University | Lepak J.M.,Aquatic Research Section | And 2 more authors.
Fisheries Research | Year: 2015

Fisheries management agencies allocate significant proportions of available resources to rear fish for stocking in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. However, domesticated fish reared in a hatchery environment may fail to exhibit normal antipredator behavior and can have relatively low survival when released into natural habitats. Exposing hatchery fish to natural predator cues can provide information about their capacity to exhibit appropriate behavioral responses and has the potential to enhance antipredator behavior and subsequent survival in the wild. We investigated immediate behavioral responses to an acute exposure to chemical cues of predation in highly domesticated, hatchery-reared rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. We used a frequently stocked and economically important strain of rainbow trout, the German Rainbow (GR), which is resistant to whirling disease but particularly susceptible to predation. We exposed individual rainbow trout to alarm cues from conspecifics, kairomones from brown trout Salmo trutta predators, and a combination of the two cues. Fish exposed to these cues exhibited changes in behavior expected to reduce predation risk, including a reduction in time spent actively swimming and exploring, and an increase in time spent frozen. Thus, these highly domesticated, hatchery-reared fish retain the innate ability to express appropriate responses to the threat of predation. Future research should investigate whether repeated exposure to predation cues in a hatchery setting could translate to long-term enhancement of antipredator behavior and increased survival rates, as this would provide a rapid, simple and low cost way to increase the efficiency of stocking programs for recreational purposes and, more importantly, native fish restoration and conservation. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Johnson B.M.,Colorado State University | Lepak J.M.,Aquatic Research Section | Wolff B.A.,Colorado State University
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2015

Mercury (Hg) is a persistent global contaminant that biomagnifies, often reaching maximum levels in apex predators. Mercury contamination in piscivorous fish is a serious health risk for anglers and other fish consumers. We used data collected from a reservoir in Colorado to develop bioenergetics-based simulations of Hg bioaccumulation to estimate Hg concentrations in walleye (Sander vitreus), a popular sport fish. We evaluated how changes in the prey available to walleye might affect walleye Hg concentrations. Our simulations showed that such changes could result in almost a 10-fold range in walleye Hg concentration. Walleye consuming invertebrates had low growth, low growth efficiency, and high Hg concentrations. Conversely, when walleye diet contained only fish prey their growth and growth efficiency were higher and Hg concentrations were about 85% lower. These predictions were consistent with independent measurements in the study system observed under two different prey regimes in 2008 and 2013. Because prey assemblages in freshwaters can exhibit high natural and anthropogenic variability, understanding variation in predator Hg and providing accurate fish consumption advice to anglers and their families will require frequent monitoring of both predator and prey species. Further, manipulation of prey assemblages is a routine fishery management strategy that could be applied to reduce Hg contamination in piscivorous fishes. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Aquatic Research Section and Colorado State University
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2014

Mercury (Hg) is a persistent global contaminant that biomagnifies, often reaching maximum levels in apex predators. Mercury contamination in piscivorous fish is a serious health risk for anglers and other fish consumers. We used data collected from a reservoir in Colorado to develop bioenergetics-based simulations of Hg bioaccumulation to estimate Hg concentrations in walleye (Sander vitreus), a popular sport fish. We evaluated how changes in the prey available to walleye might affect walleye Hg concentrations. Our simulations showed that such changes could result in almost a 10-fold range in walleye Hg concentration. Walleye consuming invertebrates had low growth, low growth efficiency, and high Hg concentrations. Conversely, when walleye diet contained only fish prey their growth and growth efficiency were higher and Hg concentrations were about 85% lower. These predictions were consistent with independent measurements in the study system observed under two different prey regimes in 2008 and 2013. Because prey assemblages in freshwaters can exhibit high natural and anthropogenic variability, understanding variation in predator Hg and providing accurate fish consumption advice to anglers and their families will require frequent monitoring of both predator and prey species. Further, manipulation of prey assemblages is a routine fishery management strategy that could be applied to reduce Hg contamination in piscivorous fishes.

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