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Juvenile Lost River and shortnose sucker year-class formation, survival, and growth in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2018 monitoring report

June 11, 2020

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 monitoring program, which began 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.

Juvenile sucker year-class strength and apparent survival were low in 2018 in Upper Klamath Lake. Most juvenile sucker mortality occurs within the first year of life. The Upper Klamath Lake year-class strength indices for Lost River and shortnose suckers in 2018 were the lowest they had been since the start of monitoring in 2015. The annual catch rates of shortnose sucker remained consistently low, whereas Lost River sucker catch rates varied. The capture of only four age-1 and older suckers from Upper Klamath Lake during the 2018 sampling season indicated low annual survival of the 2017 cohort.

Annual production indices of juvenile suckers in Clear Lake are highly variable and potentially affected by seasonal connections to spawning habitat in Willow Creek. A total of seven age-0 shortnose or Klamath largescale suckers (Catostomus snyderi) were captured from Clear Lake in 2018, which was a relatively wet year, indicating that a small cohort was formed or that there was a delay in the recruitment of age-0 suckers. The 2018 sampling continued to detect recruitment of juveniles from the 2015 cohort to the lake. Given the dysconnectivity between Willow Creek and Clear Lake during the 2015 spawning season, the continued recruitment of young fish of this cohort to the lake may be attributed to reproduction by resident suckers in Willow Creek. Suckers younger than age-3 in Clear Lake could be identified as either shortnose or Klamath largescale suckers. A stream resident life history, if it were occurring, is consistent with these fish being Klamath largescale suckers. Survival of all distinguishable taxa of juvenile suckers is much higher in Clear Lake than in Upper Klamath Lake, with non-trivial numbers of suckers surviving to join spawning aggregations.

Publication Year 2020
Title Juvenile Lost River and shortnose sucker year-class formation, survival, and growth in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2018 monitoring report
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201064
Authors Ryan J. Bart, Summer M. Burdick, Marshal S. Hoy, Carl O. Ostberg
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2020-1064
Index ID ofr20201064
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center