Timing, Distribution, and Abundance of Kokanees Spawning in a Lake Tahoe Tributary

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Great Basin Naturalist



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Timing, Distribution, Abundance, Kokanees, Spawning, Lake Tahoe, Tributary

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We counted kokanee spawners and carcasses every 1-7 days from mid-September through mid-November in 1991 and 1992 in Taylor Creek, a tributary to Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada. Less than 1% of the spawning run entered Taylor Creek before flow from Fallen Leaf Lake was increased on 2 October 1991; in 1992 the peak occurred on 30 September or 1 October after flows increased on 29 September. In both years spawners concentrated in the middle three of five stream reaches below the impassable Fallen Leaf Lake dam. From tag-and-recovery experiments, the average longevity of male spawners in the stream was 3.5 days in 1991 and 2.8 days in 1992, whereas the average female longevity was 2.0 days in 1991 and 2.3 days in 1992. Observed carcasses accounted for less than 10% of spawners counted, suggesting removal by scavengers or high prédation on prespawners. An estimated 1928 males and 1309 females spawned in 1991, and 8021 males and 8712 females spawned in 1992. Our estimate of 3237 spawners in 1991 compared favorably to our estimate of 3520 ± 1474 prespawners staging in Lake Tahoe in mid-September. An index of kokanee abundance in Lake Tahoe has historically been based on 1-day surveys every 1 November since 1960; however, estimated total spawner abundance was 19 times higher than the annual index of 158 spawners in 1991, and 141 times higher than the index count of 100 spawners in 1992. The index count and mean fork lengths of spawners (278 ± 10 mm [2 SE] for males, and 248 ± 3 mm for females) in 1991 and 1992 were the lowest on record.

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