The historical range of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout was upstream of Shoshone Falls on the Snake River and tributaries. Population of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout: Genetic Detection and Management Implications MATTHEW R. CAMPBELL* Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1800 Trout Road, Eagle, Idaho 83616, USA JEFF DILLON Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 3101 South Powerline Road, Nampa, Idaho 83686, USA MADISON S. POWELL Center for Salmonid and Freshwater Species at Risk, … Lifehistory organization of Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) in Yellowstone Lake. Only two brook trout were collected from Soda Butte Creek during a second treatment in 2016. Genetically pure Yellowstone cutthroat trout (YCT) populations have declined throughout their natural range in the Intermountain West, succumbing to competition with and predation by nonnative fish species, a loss of genetic integrity through hybridization, habitat degradation, and angling harvest. Depending on habitat, Yellowstone cutthroat can range from 6-26 inches as adults, with 6-10 inches common in high-elevation, high-gradient tributary streams and the largest fish found only in lakes or in spawning tributaries that feed lakes or emerge from them, such as the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Mammoth Hot Springs, WY: National Park Service. Therefore, ponds and lakes must have an inlet or outlet stream for cutthroats to spawn and sustain populations. Cutthroats and parasites: Yellowstone Lake’s complex community of fish and companion organisms. These threats have significantly reduced cutthroat populations in Yellowstone Lake and adjacent parts of the Yellowstone River. Bigelow, P.D. Fly fishing is the most popular angling method because the subspecies feeds primarily on insects as adults, unlike introduced brown trout which are more piscivorous. Gresswell, R.E. Yellowstone Science 2(3). The cascade prevented fish from naturally populating the system, so the Elk, Lost, and Yancey creeks complex of streams (Elk Creek Complex) was fishless when first stocked with cutthroat trout in the early 1920s. Heckmann, R. 1994. National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park. Native only to a few U.S. states, their original range was upstream of Shoshone Falls on the Snake River and tributaries in Wyoming, also across the Continental Divide in Yellowstone Lake and in the Yellowstone River as well as its tributaries downstream to the Tongue River in Montana. More than 40 species, including bears, river otters and eagles, rely on cutthroat trout for food. Journal of Raptor Research 47(3): 234–245. Selective removal by electrofishing has been conducted annually through the Lamar Valley since 2013. Their range has been reduced by overfishing and habitat destruction due to mining, grazing, and logging, and population densities have been reduced by competition with non-native brook, brown, and rainbow trout since these were introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But by 2007, that number had fallen to just 538. Distribution There are seven Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations in Utah, which are all considered conservation populations. Shepard. Spawning males, especially, typically wear golden brown colors. The economic value of a predator: Yellowstone trout. Gresswell, R.E., W.J. Yellowstone Lake continues to support a native cutthroat trout population, although the recent introduction of lake trout has dramatically impacted the cutthroat trout population. Yellowstone’s minnows are small fish living in a variety Yellowstone cutthroat trout: translation. 2000). Illegal introduction of Lake Trout by amateur “bucket biologists” sometime in the 1980s caused a massive crash in the cutthroat population, which th… Ertel, and D.L. Unlike the Lamar River, Slough Creek is smaller, and a barrier to upstream fish movement has been constructed. In 2015, 136 fish were sampled downstream of the Lamar River bridge. Populations outside the national park are subject varying regulations depending on the location of the stream or waterway. among 45 Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations based on Cavalli-Sforza and Edward's (1967) chord distance. Bozeman, MT. Two-thirds of the streams that were part of the species’ native habitat outside the Yellowstone Lake watershed still contain genetically pure YCT; in other streams they have hybridized with rainbow trout. 2003. Koel, T.M., P.E. Without some control of lake trout, the experts predicted the cutthroat population would be reduced by 70 percent in 100 years. PO Box 168 Yellowstone cutthroat trout were the nation's first fish species to be identified as cutthroat trout - the first of now 14 recognized subspecies to be described as "cutthroat" because of their orange to crimson slashes underneath the jaw. 2005). Presently, hybridized cutthroat trout exist throughout the Bechler, Falls, Gallatin, Gardner, and Lamar river drainages, and the Yellowstone River below the Upper Falls. State and federal wildlife agencies classify YCT as a sensitive species. The cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park’s largest lake are survivors. To protect the remaining Yellowstone cutthroat trout, the NPS has implemented a selective removal approach. Conserving Yellowstone cutthroat trout for the future of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Yellowstone’s Aquatic Sciences Program. The majority of these fish were tagged with radio transmitters or passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags as part of an ongoing research project to determine if Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow, and hybrid trout are using the same areas to spawn and spawn timing and to inform management actions. Currently, the strongest populations of cutthroat are to be found in the Grand and Black Canyons of the Yellowstone River and in the Yellowstone's major tributary in Yellowstone Park, the Lamar River and its tributaries. 2005. In M. K. Young, ed., Conservation assessment for inland cutthroat trout, 36–54. All Yellowstone cutthroat trout caught within Yellowstone National Park must be released. By. Koel, D. Mahony, B. Ertel, B. Rowdon, and S.T. Lynn R. Kaeding, New climate regime started and further shaped the historic Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout population decline commonly attributed entirely to nonnative lake trout predation, Aquatic Ecology, 10.1007/s10452-020-09765-x, (2020). Since 2017, eDNA and electrofishing sampling, as well as electrofishing surveys, found no evidence of brook trout in the system. In 2019, 7% of fish sampled during electrofishing surveys upstream of the Lamar River Canyon were classified as rainbow or hybrid trout. Koel. Nonnative lake trout result in Yellowstone cutthroat trout decline and impacts to bears and anglers. “I have been working on Yellowstone Lake for 12 years volunteering on the system, fundraising and trying to spread the word about what was … So prolific was the habitat that more than 70,000 YCT were counted at the mouth of a single feeder stream, Clear Creek, in 1978 alone. In 2015, 136 fish were sampled downstream of the Lamar River bridge. native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, discovered over a five-year period during the 1990s, irreversibly altered the future of this thriving and diverse ecosystem. Yellowstone National Park, WY: National Park Service, Yellowstone Center for Resources. They provide an important source of food for an estimated 16 species of birds, and mammals including bears, river otters, and mink. Koel, T.M., D.L. Lives in rivers and streams with deep pools, clear and clean water. Yellowstone National Park, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and Yellowstone National Park. Genetic analysis indicates that cutthroat trout in the headwater reaches of the Lamar River remain genetically unaltered. Journey through Yellowstone's aquatic ecosystems. 2010. By 2008 the cutthroat were in a very bad state. These are likely indicators that the lake trout population is on the decline, which is great news for the native cutthroats. The Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri)is a member of the Salmonidae, the family of trout, salmon, grayling, and whitefish. The number of YCT spawning there peaked at more than 70,000 in 1978 and fell to 538 by 2007. Initially, brook trout were isolated in headwater reaches by a chemical barrier created by mine contamination upstream of Cooke City, Montana. Crossref. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service does not warrant listing the YCT as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In 2013 Ice Box Falls was modified to be a complete barrier to upstream fish movement, thus entirely eliminating the threat of nonnative fish traveling upstream. Symbols correspond to drainage location (GMU) listed in Table 11. Yellowstone cutthroat trout throughout a large portion of the Yellowstone River basin within the national park. Based on field identification, 48… While populations of some non-native species are socioeconomically important resources to many communities, they can threaten Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations through predation, competition, and hybridization (Campbell et al. Myxobolus cerebralis in native cutthroat trout of the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem. 1995. American Fisheries Society. Kinnan, C. Rasmussen, C.J. Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Vol. As a general rule, cutthroat in streams and small ponds run from 10-18 inches as adults, with a weight of 0.5-2.0 lb. Doepke, B.D. In Slough Creek, rainbow-cutthroat trout hybrids have been found with increasing frequency over the past decade. Yellowstone National Park, WY With a barrier in place and rainbow trout no longer allowed passage into the system, existing rainbow and hybrid trout can be effectively managed with angling and electrofishing removal. Protect park waters by preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Determining their distribution and abundance would inform development of specific strategies to protect and secure Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations. A mandatory kill fishing regulation on all rainbow trout caught upstream of the Lamar River bridge was instituted in 2014. 1; Koel et al. Learn how the Native Fish Conservation Program works to preserve Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout and to restore fluvial trout populations. [3], Although lake trout were established in Shoshone and Lewis lakes in the Snake River drainage from U.S. government stocking operations in 1890, they were never officially introduced into the Yellowstone River drainage and their presence there is probably the result of accidental or illegal introductions.[3][4]. Because of the lack of barriers in the lower reaches of most drainages, nonnative fish have been dispersing upstream and have replaced, or threaten to replace, cutthroat trout. All cutthroats can be differentiated from rainbow trout by red, pink, or orange marking beneath the jaw that give the species its name. May, B.E., W. Urie, and B.B. 2007). Gunther. It is a freshwater fish in the salmon family (family Salmonidae). Fish and Wildlife Service place the subspecies on the list of endangered species were not approved by the agency, citing evidence that major efforts are already underway to ensure the continued existence of this subspecies. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 18(3):157–175. While the Yellowstone cutthroat trout is historically a Pacific drainage species, it has naturally traveled across the Continental Divide into the Atlantic drainage. Native Fish Conservation Plan / Environmental Assessment, Edited by Department of the Interior. Yellowstone National Park supports the largest remaining population of Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri— Varley and Gresswell 1988).The park's largest body of water, Yellowstone Lake, represents nearly 80% of the lacustrine habitat for this subspecies (Gresswell et al. Introductions or invasions of brown trout Salmo trutta, brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis and Lake Trout (Yellowstone Lake) have led to displacement of cutthroat trout throughout the western U.S. Trout Unlimited has joined with other NGOs, National Park Service and USGS to restore the lake. The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a prized game fish. For comparison, the population of cutthroat trout in the late 1970s was estimated at around 3.5 to 4 million fish. and P. Schullery. As the global climate shifts, high-elevation headwater stream reaches may become critically important cold water refugia for salmonids, including Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Isaak et al. The objectives of Yellowstone’s Native Fish Conservation Plan (2010) include recovery of YCT abundance in the lake to that documented in the late 1990s, maintaining access for spawning YCT in at least 45 of Yellowstone Lake’s 59 historical spawning tributaries, and maintaining or restoring genetically pure YCT in the current extent of streams occupied by pure or hybrid YCT. Native to the Yellowstone River, Snake River, and Falls River drainages. Hybrids will have characteristics consistent with both species, often making identification difficult. Bootstrap Bigelow, P.D. Symposium 4. A National Park Service gill netting program removed nearly 273,000 lake trout from Yellowstone Lake between 1995 and 2007. Baril, L.M., D.W. Smith, T. Drummer, and T.M. Spawn in rivers or streams in late April through mid-July. Yellowstone Lake and the Yellowstone River together contain the largest inland population of cutthroat trout in the world. In other waters, brown, brook, and rainbow trout all compete with cutthroat trout for food and habitat. Average number of fish in 2019 was 21.1 fish per 100 meters of net. Before habitat destruction, the threats presented by introduced species, and overfishing, they could run much larger, with fish over 30 inches reported, especially in the strain present in Heart Lake in the southeastern portion of Yellowstone National Park. 2006. In addition, rainbow trout hybridization continued to be identified in cutthroat trout upstream of Ice Box Canyon. Yellowstone cutthroat can be distinguished from other subspecies by their larger black spots that are clustered towards the tail, and by their gray, gold, or copper hues. You can help, donate. The iconic population of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in yellowstone Lake has been decimated by the intrduction of non-native lake trout. However, the most serious current threats to the subspecies are interbreeding with introduced rainbow trout (resulting in cutbows) in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the presence of lake trout in Yellowstone and Heart lakes in Yellowstone National Park which prey upon cutthroat trout to 15 inches in length, and several outbreaks of whirling disease in major spawning tributaries. 2013. Managing bears and developments on cutthroat spawning streams in Yellowstone National Park. Protection of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Edited by US Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 1995. and J.D. In waters where rainbow trout have been introduced, there has been a serious degradation of the cutthroat trout population through interbreeding. Body mostly yellow-brown with darker olive or gray hues on the back, lighter yellow on sides. Olliff. In A. P. Curlee, A. Gillesberg and D. Casey, ed., Greater Yellowstone predators: Ecology and conservation in a changing landscape: Proceedings of the third biennial conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 143–150. Red slash along jaw and spots common to all cutthroat varieties. A panel of fisheries experts that met in 1995 to assess the lake trout's presence and likely impacts on Yellowstone cutthroat population estimated that, with effective suppression of lake trout numbers, the cutthroat population decline might be held to 10- to 20 percent of present levels. Because no barriers to upstream fish migration exist in the mainstem Lamar River, descendants of rainbow trout stocked in the 1930s have spread to many locations across the watershed and hybridized with cutthroat trout. However, the most serious current threats to the subspecies are interbreeding with introduced rainbow trout (resulting in cutbows) in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the presence of lake troutin Yellowstone and Heart lakes in Yellows… 6.2 Upper Yellowstone … The variety of habitats resulted in the evolution of various life history types among Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Antelope and Pebble creeks provided fish for stocking the Elk Creek Complex in October 2015. Suckers are bottom-dwelling fish that use ridges on their jaws to scrape flora and fauna from rocks. In Yellowstone Lake, lake trout are a major predator of cutthroat trout. Yellowstone Lake, in the National Park and the Yellowstone River, in Wyoming and Montana contain the largest inland population of cutthroat trout in the world. Koel, T.M., P.E. Historically the most abundant and widely distributed subspecies of cutthroat trout throughout the West. Native fish underpin natural food webs and have great local economic significance. One possible such passage in the Yellowstone area is Two Ocean Pass, south of the park in the Teton Wilderness. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) Species Status Statement. Habitat remains pristine within Yellowstone National Park, but nonnative fish species pose a serious threat to native fish. When the mine tailings were capped and water quality improved,, brook trout passed downstream and began to negatively impact the cutthroat trout. Larson. Yellowstone cutthroat trout; Scientific classification; Kingdom: Animalia: Phylum: Fort Collins, CO: National Park Service, Water Resources Division. Be a responsible angler and understand the regulations before you come. Future Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Conservation Protection of genetically unaltered cutthroat trout will continue to be a top priority in Yellowstone. Curlee, A. Gillesberg and D. Casey, ed., Greater Yellowstone predators: Ecology and conservation in a changing landscape: Proceedings of the third biennial conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 161–169. Lake-wide sampling began in 1968, and in 2014 the average number of YCT caught at survey sites reached a recent high of 28.4 fish per 100 meters of net. While the Yellowstone cutthroat trout is historically a Pacific drainage species, it has (naturally) traveled across the Continental Divide into the Atlantic drainage. The population at the core of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout's native range, in Yellowstone Lake, declined significantly in the 1960s due to overharvest of mature cutthroat trout by anglers, as well as overharvesting of eggs by hatcheries in the early 20th century. But Trout Unlimited special project manager Dave Sweet said cutthroat have been under attack. Biologists and technicians measured the length and weight of captured trout… Liss, and G.L. The cutthroat trout populations has fluctuated over the last century, but abundance declined by 60% since 1990 (Fig. Mahony. They provide an important source of food for an estimated 20 species of birds, and mammals including bears, river otters, and mink. Gresswell, R.E. "Montana Field Guide-Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout", Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, "Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri): A Technical Conservation Assessment", "The Yellowstone Lake Crisis: Confronting a Lake Trout Invasion",, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 2 January 2021, at 06:12. In total, gillnetting has removed over 3 million lake trout since 1994, of which roughly 2 million have been removed over the past six seasons, during the period Yellowstone Forever has supported the increased effort. Populations of native cutthroat trout appear to be rebounding, thanks to an effort to kill off an invasive species in Yellowstone Lake. This is a good indication that a complete kill was achieved in the drainage. It also existed across the Continental Divide in Yellowstone Lake and in the Yellowstone River, and its tributaries downstream to the Tongue. Fall Fishing in Yellowstone . The Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) Most important foods are aquatic insects— mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, etc.—and other small aquatic animals, plus terrestrial insects that fall into the water. 2009. Fort Collins, CO: US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Effects of a century of human influence on the cutthroat trout of Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and Yellowstone National Park. The Comeback of the Cutthroat An exotic species crashed the upper Yellowstone River’s native cutthroat trout population, but decades of aggressive eradication efforts aimed at the invasive fish have morphed the remote river back into a bucket-list destination for anglers. The decline is attributed to predation by nonnative lake trout, low water during drought years, and the nonnative parasite that causes whirling disease. Olliff, and K.A. Yellowstone cutthroat trout: Conserving a heritage population in Yellowstone Lake. The key to thriving populations of Yellowstone cutthroats in the Yellowstone River drainage is the incredible fecundity of Yellowstone Lake and its many spawning tributaries. Also eat smaller fish, fish eggs, small rodents, frogs, algae and other plants, and plankton. Hudson, S. Murcia, and B.L. is a subspecies of the cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii). The low was estimated to be in the mid-to late-2000s at merely 5-10% of the … Doepke, B.D. Nearly 450 brook trout were removed during the chemical treatment in 2015. Once clear of brook trout, reintroduction of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout began. 2004, Seiler and Keeley 2007). Many of the remaining genetically pure YCT are found within the park. Because Yellowstone cutthroat trout and rainbow trout readily hybridize and produce fertile offspring, sympatric populations often form hybrid swarms (Allendorf and Leary 1988; Henderson et al. Yellowstone Lake and the Yellowstone River together contain the largest inland population of cutthroat trout in the world. Kerkvliet, J., C. Nowell, and S. Lowe. They are an important species in Yellowstone National Park, upon which many other species depend. Rainbow trout pose the additional threat of hybridizing with cutthroat trout. Implications of cutthroat trout declines for breeding ospreys and bald eagles at Yellowstone Lake. Mottled sculpin live in shallow, cold water throughout Yellowstone except the Yellowstone River above Lower Falls and in Yellowstone Lake. 1994. Numbers at branch points represent bootstrap percentages from 1000 replicates. In 1942, the streams were stocked with brook trout, resulting in the complete loss of cutthroat trout. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Robert E. Gresswell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 104 Nash Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331 Introduction The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is more abundant and inhabits a greater geographical range than does any other nonanadronnous subspecies of cutthroat trout (Varley and Gresswell 1988). These seven populations occupy approximately 35 stream miles (Thompson 2002), representing roughly 0.5% of the total occupied habitat in the native range of Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which includes portions of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. Varley, J.D. Most varieties of cutthroat trout are less wary and selective than other trout species, thus angler success rates are higher. Currently regulations state that all nonnative fish and identifiable cutthroat x rainbow trout hybrids upstream of Knowles Falls must be killed. Attempts as recently as 2004 by environmentalists to have the U.S. Mahoney. 82190-0168, Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details. Brook trout became established in Soda Butte Creek outside of the park boundary and spread downstream into park waters in the early 2000s. Suppression of the lake trout population is deemed necessary for the conservation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Some fish are stocked in otherwise suitable lakes in the Beartooth Mountains and elsewhere to provide angling opportunities that otherwise would not be available. In A.P. 2002, Peterson et al. Bigelow, P.E., T.M. The Yellowstone Lake crisis: Confronting a lake trout invasion: a report to the director of the National Park Service. The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is vis… Ertel, and D.L. In Utah, the estimated historical distribution is approximately 81 stream miles (May et al. Range-wide status of Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri): 2001, Edited by US Forest Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit. lies Yellowstone Lake, which is supports the greatest lacustrine population of cutthroat today, with an estimated 7.5 to 10 million trout inhabiting the watershed (Trotter 2008). of habitats and eating a variety of foods. Yellowstone Science 14(2). For nearly two decades, interagency electrofishing surveys were enough to keep brook trout populations low, but did not prevent range expansion. Gresswell, ed., Status and management of interior stocks of cutthroat trout, 45–52. Fisheries 30(11):10–19. 1988. Additional stocking took place in 2016 and 2017. Require cold, clean water in streams or lakes. Life history diversity within an ecosystem helps protect a population from being lost in a single extreme natural event. This low percentage is a stark contrast to work conducted downstream of the Canyon. Some populations live and spawn within a single stream or river (fluvial), some live in a stream and move into a tributary to spawn (fluvial-adfluvial), some live in a lake and spawn in a tributary (lacustrine- adfluvial), and still others live in a lake and spawn in an outlet stream (allacustrine). Lake trout may alter nutrient cycling in Yellowstone Lake and adjacent tributary streams by reducing the dominant, native cutthroat trout population. 2006. They are an important species in Yellowstone National Park, upon which many other species depend. In R.E. Cutthroats are the only native trout of the Yellowstone ecosystem and were the dominant fish species here prior to Euro-American settlement. [1] The species is also found in Idaho, Utah and Nevada.[2].