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Distribution of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in conjunction with habitat and trout assemblages in creeks within the Klamath Basin, Oregon 2010–16

May 2, 2022

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the Klamath Basin are on the southernmost border of the range of the species, where threats are most severe and where bull trout are most imperiled. In their recovery plan the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2015, suggested that Klamath Basin bull trout are at increased risk of extirpation due to habitat fragmentation, degradation of habitat complexity, and introduction of non-native trout species that often outcompete bull trout. The goals of this study were to determine if there was a lack of connectivity between habitat areas impeding migration, habitat differences, or interference by non-native species affecting bull trout distribution in the Klamath Basin. This study examined three populations of bull trout in conjunction with a concurrent native species (redband trout [Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnerii]), and a concurrent non-native species (brown trout [Salmo trutta]) in tributaries of the upper Sprague River within the Klamath Basin. Culverts present at the beginning of the study may have impeded migration of bull trout, but culvert upgrades made during the study appeared to eliminate the impediments to migration. The presence of non-native brown trout appeared to cause bull trout to use a smaller portion of Leonard Creek, whereas the low numbers of brown trout in the studied portion of Brownsworth Creek did not appear to interfere with the local distribution of bull trout. Downstream migration of bull trout may have been impeded if there were increased numbers of brown trout or increased temperatures in the lower portions of the creeks outside of the study area. Although habitat complexity was not examined in detail during this study, there was an attempt to enhance the habitat for bull trout by introducing large woody debris into treatment sections of the creeks. We compared bull trout numbers between the treatment sections and nearby control sections prior to and after introduction of the large woody debris. The introduction of large woody debris did not appear to enhance the use of those areas by bull trout, but the large woody debris may not have been of suitable size to enhance the habitat for bull trout.

Publication Year 2022
Title Distribution of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in conjunction with habitat and trout assemblages in creeks within the Klamath Basin, Oregon 2010–16
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221022
Authors Barbara A. Martin, Nolan Banish, David A. Hewitt, Brian S. Hayes, Amari Dolan-Caret, Alta C. Harris, Caylen Kelsey
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2022-1022
Index ID ofr20221022
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center