Date of Award:

12-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Watershed Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Phaedra Budy

Abstract

Bull trout are a fish species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.Historically, they ranged from Northern California at the southernmost extent, into Canada at the northern most extent, and east into Nevada and Montana. Bull trout are highly migratory and require large, unfragmented habitats to persist and are thus highly susceptible to human induced land-use practices. The goal of my thesis was to obtain a better understanding of bull trout movement patterns in the Walla Walla River, Washington using complimentary techniques; Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT)technology and otolith microchemistry. PIT tags can be injected into a fish body cavity, similar to how pets are “chipped”, and as the fish swim through antennas placed in the river, their location and movements are be documented.Otolith microchemistry is a technique that is similar to analysis of tree rings. The otolith, a hard bony structure of a fish’s ear, develops over a lifetime and as the rings of the otolith are created the chemical signature in the water in which they live is recorded and can be compared to chemical makeup of water samples collected through the river system. Using these two techniques, I found that the age or size of a fish and the season are important factors to explain both a fish’s movements and where in the river a fish might be located at a given time. Knowing at what size, age and season a fish is attempting to migrate allows managers to provide the best possible river conditions (e.g., temperatures, flow) to allow for unimpeded migrations to occur and to foster conservation and recovery of bull trout populations.

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