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Survival, growth, and movement of subadult humpback chub, Gila cypha, in the Little Colorado River, Arizona

December 20, 2014

Ecologists estimate vital rates, such as growth and survival, to better understand population dynamics and identify sensitive life history parameters for species or populations of concern. Here, we assess spatiotemporal variation in growth, movement, density, and survival of subadult humpback chub living in the Little Colorado River, Grand Canyon, AZ from 2001–2002 and 2009–2013. We divided the Little Colorado River into three reaches and used a multistate mark-recapture model to determine rates of movement and differences in survival and density between sites for different cohorts. Additionally, site-specific and year-specific effects on growth were evaluated using a linear model. Results indicate that summer growth was higher for upstream sites compared with downstream sites. In contrast, there was not a consistent spatial pattern across years in winter growth; however, river-wide winter growth was negatively related to the duration of floods from 1 October to 15 May. Apparent survival was estimated to be lower at the most downstream site compared with the upstream sites; however, this could be because in part of increased emigration into the Colorado River at downstream sites. Furthermore, the 2010 cohort (i.e. fish that are age 1 in 2010) exhibited high apparent survival relative to other years. Movement between reaches varied with year, and some years exhibited preferential upstream displacement. Improving understanding of spatiotemporal effects on age 1 humpback chub survival can help inform current management efforts to translocate humpback chub into new locations and give us a better understanding of the factors that may limit this tributary's carrying capacity for humpback chub.