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Growth, survival, and cohort formation of juvenile Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2020 monitoring report

November 9, 2022

Executive Summary

Populations of federally endangered Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir (hereinafter, Clear Lake), California, are experiencing long-term decreases in abundance. Upper Klamath Lake populations are decreasing not only because of adult mortality, which is relatively low, but also because they are not being balanced by recruitment of young adult suckers into known adult spawning aggregations.

Long-term monitoring of juvenile sucker populations is conducted to (1) determine if there are annual and species-specific differences in production, survival, and growth, (2) better understand when juvenile sucker mortality is greatest, and (3) help identify potential causes of high juvenile sucker mortality particularly in Upper Klamath Lake. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) monitoring program, begun in 2015, tracks cohorts through summer months and among years in Upper Klamath and Clear Lakes. Data on juvenile suckers captured in trap nets are used to provide information on annual variability in age-0 sucker apparent production, juvenile sucker apparent survival, apparent growth, species composition, and health.

Upper Klamath Lake indices of year-class strength suggest that the 2020 age-0 cohort is one of the lowest since standardized monitoring began. Despite apparently low over-winter survival, the relatively large 2019 cohort persisted in our 2020 samples and continues to contribute to the populations. Although the 2019 cohort age-0 suckers were composed mainly of Lost River suckers, the age-1 suckers from the 2019 cohort were mainly shortnose suckers. Lost River suckers comprised the largest proportion of the 2020 year-class and were only captured in July and August. Shortnose suckers were mainly captured in August and September and comprised a smaller proportion of the 2020 year-class.

Age distribution of suckers captured in Clear Lake indicates greater juvenile survival than in Upper Klamath Lake. Most juvenile suckers captured were age-3 and age-4 suckers classified as the combination of Klamath largescale suckers (Catostomus snyderi) and shortnose suckers from the Lost River Basin, from the 2016 and 2017 cohorts. A lack of age-0 suckers captured in Clear Lake during years with the low inflow or lake levels initially lead us to believe that low water prevented spawning and year class formation. However, recent data indicate that some cohorts that were not captured as age-0 suckers were detected in later years at age-1 or age-2. This finding indicates that juvenile suckers in Clear Lake may spend one or more years in the tributaries or that sampling efficacy for age-0 suckers varies among years because of water depth.

The first 5 years of this monitoring program indicated different patterns in recruitment and survival of juvenile suckers between Upper Klamath and Clear Lakes. Since the monitoring program began in 2015, age-0 sucker catch rates, interpreted as indices of year-class strength, were greatest in Upper Klamath Lake in 2016 and 2019. In those years Lost River suckers made up the majority of age-0 sucker catches; however, in 2017 and 2020 the age-1 sucker catches from these cohorts were mainly composed of shortnose suckers or suckers with genetic markers of both Klamath largescale and shortnose suckers, indicating a low overwinter survival for Lost River suckers even when the age-0 catches were high. Age-0 suckers do not fully recruit to our sampling gear in Upper Klamath Lake until August, experience high mortality by September, and are almost undetectable by the following July or August in most years. In Clear Lake, suckers frequently are not captured until age-1 or age-2 and annual survival appears much greater.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Growth, survival, and cohort formation of juvenile Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2020 monitoring report
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221099
Authors Barbara A. Martin, Caylen M. Kelsey, Summer M. Burdick, Ryan J. Bart
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2022-1099
Index ID ofr20221099
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center