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Water quality, instream habitat, and the distribution of suckers in the upper Lost River watershed of Oregon and California, summer 2018

August 27, 2021

Executive Summary

Endangered Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) suckers primarily use lotic habitats during the spring spawning season in the Upper Klamath Lake watershed. However, summer-time surveys of the upper Lost River watershed in 1972, 1975 and 1989–90 indicated that adults of both endangered species use tributaries of Clear Lake Reservoir (hereafter: Clear Lake) year-round. Adult shortnose suckers have also been documented to use tributaries of Gerber Reservoir year-round. We surveyed the tributaries of Clear Lake and Gerber Reservoir to provide up-to-date information on the timing, distribution, and habitat use within the upper Lost River drainage by these two endangered sucker species.

Contrary to previous studies, this study did not capture any Lost River suckers in the Clear Lake tributaries. Genetics samples from suckers collected during this study were used to verify that no Lost River suckers were captured. At the time of this study, genetics could not identify the differences between shortnose and the non-endangered Klamath largescale suckers (Catostomus snyderi), therefore, morphology was used to separate these two species. Furthermore, the shortnose suckers and the Klamath largescale suckers documented in the upper Lost River drainage are more similar to Klamath largescale suckers than shortnose suckers that exist in the Upper Klamath Lake recovery unit. Therefore, the suckers we documented during our surveys were most likely Klamath largescale suckers.

We captured suckers, age-0 to age-9, in the Clear Lake tributaries within stream pools and flooded meadows behind water retention structures. However, no suckers were collected in small reservoirs sampled upstream of Clear Lake. Suckers were found in habitats with mud and fine substrate at depths of 0.5–3.0 meters, with most captured at 1.0 meter or less. Suckers co-occurred with nonnative species, which were more abundant in our survey than in previous surveys in the tributaries to Clear Lake.

Gerber Reservoir tributaries yielded more suckers per unit effort than Clear Lake tributaries. All suckers captured in the tributaries of Gerber Reservoir were identified as Klamath Largescale suckers. The suckers in tributaries to Gerber Reservoir were collected in similar habitat as those in Clear Lake tributaries and were age-0 to age-6.

Publication Year 2021
Title Water quality, instream habitat, and the distribution of suckers in the upper Lost River watershed of Oregon and California, summer 2018
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211077
Authors Barbara A. Martin, Summer M. Burdick, Stephen T. Staiger, Caylen M. Kelsey
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2021-1077
Index ID ofr20211077
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center