Abstract.—I used radio transmitters to determine habitat selection and movement patterns of California golden trout Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita in two areas defined by their different levels of habitat recovery in the Golden Trout Wilderness, California. Study areas were differentiated by the amount of streamside vegetation (low or high coverage of beaked sedge Carex rostrata). Lower amounts of streamside vegetation were typically associated with other signs of degradation caused by cattle, including widened streams, collapsed banks, and reduced bank undercutting. Twenty-nine California golden trout were monitored from 6 July to 14 July 1994 over 192 diel-tracking hours at six study sections in low- and high-sedge areas in Mulkey Meadow. In both low- and high-sedge areas, California golden trout were observed using nine habitat features (undercut bank, willows, collapsed bank, open channel, aquatic vegetation, sedge, boulder, grass, and detrital mats), but they more often selected undercut banks, aquatic vegetation, and sedge and avoided bare and collapsed banks. Home ranges were similar in high-sedge sections (17.3 m) and low-sedge sections (16.9 m). Most fish moved little and were found within 5 m of their previously recorded location at both low-sedge and high-sedge sites. Total movement over the tracking period was variable between individual fish, but mean cumulative distances differed and were greater in high-sedge areas than in low-sedge areas. This study documented that California golden trout in pools and runs used and selected habitat features typically damaged by grazing (undercut banks, aquatic vegetation, and sedge) and avoided habitat features (bare and collapsed banks) typically caused by cattle grazing. Grazing management that seeks to protect habitat features preferred by California golden trout must employ strategies that protect undercut banks, sedge, and aquatic vegetation, and that reduce bare and collapsed banks.
Matthews, K.R. 1996. Golden trout habitat selection and movement patterns in degraded and recovering sites within the Golden Trout Wilderness, California. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 16:578-590