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Title: Decline of the migratory form in bull charr, Salvelinus confluentus, and implications for conservation

Author: Nelson, M. Lee; McMahon, Thomas E.; Thurow, Russell F.;

Date: 2002

Source: Environmental biology of fishes. 64(1-3): 321–332.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Large-bodied, migratory life history forms of bull charr, Salvelinus confluentus, were historically abundant in northwestern North America, but many remaining populations of this now-threatened species presently persist as small-bodied residents isolated in headwater streams.We examined whether the migratory form has been lost from headwater populations of bull charr and their potential for re-establishment. Upstream and downstream movement of bull charr and other salmonids from three tributary populations in the Bitterroot River drainage, Montana, was measured with weirs over a 17-month period. The migratory life history was rare or absent in two tributaries but still present at a low level in a third. In contrast, substantial numbers (n = 1745) of juvenile and adults of other salmonids (brown trout, Salmo trutta, cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki, and mountain whitefish, Prosopium williamsoni) were captured near tributary mouths, indicating a migratory life history was common in other species. Apparent decline of the migratory life history in bull charr was not directly related to damming suggesting other downstream mortality factors (predation, temperature) also are involved. Isolated, nonmigratory forms have increased risk of extinction, and restoration of the population connectivity via the re-establishment of migratory stocks is an important conservation goal for bull charr recovery. However, the factors governing migratory tendency remain unclear.

Keywords: life history, bull trout, form, resident

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Nelson, M. Lee; McMahon, Thomas E.; Thurow, Russell F. 2002. Decline of the migratory form in bull charr, Salvelinus confluentus, and implications for conservation. Environmental biology of fishes. 64(1-3): 321–332.

 


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