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Avian predation on juvenile and adult Lost River and Shortnose Suckers: An updated multi-predator species evaluation

October 21, 2022

Previous research suggests that predation by piscivorous colonial waterbirds may negatively influence the survival of Lost River Suckers (LRS) Deltistes luxatus and Shortnose Suckers (SNS) Chasmistes brevirostris in the Upper Klamath Basin (UKB), USA. However, estimates of predation from past studies, which were based on suckers with PIT tags, represent minimum estimates of sucker mortality because analyses did not account for the proportion of tags that were consumed by birds and deposited beyond their breeding colony. To address this uncertainty, we fed PIT-tagged suckers to American white pelicans Pelecanus erythrorhynchos to estimate deposition probabilities. A hierarchical Bayesian model was then used to estimate predation rates (percentage of available tagged fish that were consumed) on juvenile suckers that were released as part of the Sucker Assisted Rearing Program (SARP) and on wild juvenile and adult LRS and SNS during 2009–2020. Pelican deposition probabilities were estimated to be 0.47 (95% credible interval = 0.36–0.60), indicating that for every 100 tags consumed, 47 tags on average were deposited on breeding colonies by birds. Deposition-corrected estimates of predation rates were approximately two times greater than those previously reported and ranged annually from 4.3% (95% credible interval = 2.9–6.7%) to 8.5% (6.3–12.7%) on SARP juvenile suckers, from 4.3% (0.9–13.2%) to 10.5% (3.8–24.5%) on wild juvenile suckers, and from 0.1% (<0.1–0.3%) to 7.2% (2.8–16.4%) on adult suckers, depending on species and location. Results suggest that predation by colonial waterbirds, although not the original cause of sucker declines, was a substantial source of sucker mortality in some years. Future studies should consider models that jointly estimate both predation and survival and models that include environmental factors that potentially influence sucker susceptibility to avian predators in the UKB.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Avian predation on juvenile and adult Lost River and Shortnose Suckers: An updated multi-predator species evaluation
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10838
Authors Allen Evans, Quinn Payton, Nathan V Banet, Bradley M. Cramer, Caylen Kelsey, David A. Hewitt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70238319
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center

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