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Role of stream ice on fall and winter movements and habitat use by bull trout and cutthroat trout in Montana headwater streamsAuthor(s): Michael J. Jakober; Thomas E. McMahon; Russell F. Thurow; Christopher G. Clancy
Source: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 127: 223-235.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionWe used radiotelemetry and underwater observation to assess fall and winter movements and habitat use by bull trout Salvelinus confluentus and westslope cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi in two headwater streams in the Bitterroot River drainage, Montana, that varied markedly in habitat availability and stream ice conditions. Bull trout and cutthroat trout made extensive (>1 km) downstream overwintering movements with declining temperature in the fall. Most fish remained stationary for the remainder of the study (until late February), but some fish made additional downstream movements (1.1-1.7 km) in winter during a low-temperature (⩽1°C) period marked by anchor ice formation. Winter movement was more extensive in the mid-elevation stream where frequent freezing and thawing led to variable surface ice cover and frequent supercooling (<0°C). Habitat use of both species varied with availability; beaver ponds and pools with large woody debris were preferred in one stream, and pools with boulders were preferred in the other. Trout overwintered in beaver ponds in large (N = 80-120), mixed aggregations. In both streams, both species decreased use of submerged cover following the formation of surface ice. Our results indicate that (1) continued activity by trout during winter is common in streams with dynamic ice conditions and (2) complex mixes of habitat are needed to provide suitable fall and winter habitat for these species.
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CitationJakober, Michael J.; McMahon, Thomas E.; Thurow, Russell F.; Clancy, Christopher G. 1998. Role of stream ice on fall and winter movements and habitat use by bull trout and cutthroat trout in Montana headwater streams. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 127: 223-235.
Keywordsradiotelemetry, underwater observation, bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus, westslope cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi, headwater streams
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