Date of Award:

5-2022

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Watershed Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Mary Conner

Committee

Mary Conner

Committee

Timothy Walsworth

Committee

Soren Brothers

Abstract

Endemic fishes in the intermountain west experienced significant population declines in the 20th century due to a variety of disturbances, including habitat fragmentation, water development, and the introduction of non-native, predatory fish species. The combination of habitat degradation with increased predation risk can severely limit natural recruitment for native fish species, and in response, fisheries manager shave employed a variety of recovery strategies to prevent extinction. Among the most prominent strategies is artificial propagation and subsequent release of individuals into the natural environment (i.e., stocking). Artificial propagation is an expensive endeavor, and when not coupled with a research component, can lead to poor post-stocking survival and inefficient use of limited recovery resources. The June sucker, an imperiled species endemic to Utah Lake, UT, has been supplemented through artificial propagation since the 1990s. Approximately 800,000 June suckers have been stocked from multiple sources at varying sizes and across different seasons. Here, I analyzed the effects of stocking origin, size, and season on post-stocking survival for June suckers. Additionally, because the goal of hatchery programs is to maximize efficiency, I examined costs and benefits of stocking different sizes of fish. In doing so, I highlight operational changes that will more effectively augment adult abundance, which in turn will reduce extinction risk for the June sucker and other imperiled fish species in the intermountain west.

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