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Changes in growth of Rainbow Trout in a Catskill Mountain Reservoir following Alewife and White Perch Introductions

November 1, 2018

Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss were introduced to the Esopus Creek watershed in the Catskill Mountains of New York in the early 1880s. This introduction created a renowned naturalized fishery that remains important to the local economy today. The objective of this study was to determine whether the growth and condition of Rainbow Trout in the Ashokan Reservoir changed following the establishment of (1) Alewives Alosa pseudoharengus in the 1970s and (2) White Perch Morone americana in the 2000s by analyzing historical scale samples from 502 Rainbow Trout. The resulting data were used to compare length at age, von Bertalanffy growth curves, age‐specific annual growth increments, and relative weight before and after each introduction. Results indicated that growth of Rainbow Trout of ages <5 years generally increased following each introduction, while insufficient data for ages 5 and 6 made trends for older fish unclear. Rainbow Trout of ages ≤2 are believed to primarily use riverine habitats in this watershed, and therefore fish of ages >2 may best reflect reservoir growth. The mean relative weight of Rainbow Trout also increased between each period. The largest increases in both growth and condition were observed during the period after the introduction of White Perch, which was unexpected considering this species may have some diet overlap with Rainbow Trout and should be a poor forage species. Changes in watershed management and density‐dependent growth effects may explain these unexpected results. Our results, which largely suggest increased growth and condition over time, eliminate growth effects as a possible explanation for declining Rainbow Trout populations and suggest recruitment issues in the watershed require further investigation. This study contributes to our understanding of the interactions between introduced species and underscores the value of maintaining long‐term monitoring programs for assessing biological trends.

Publication Year 2018
Title Changes in growth of Rainbow Trout in a Catskill Mountain Reservoir following Alewife and White Perch Introductions
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10203
Authors Scott D. George, Barry P. Baldigo, Michael J. Flaherty, Eileen A. Randall
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70200791
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center