Variable Migratory Patterns of Different Adult Rainbow Trout Life History Types in a Southwest Alaska Watershed

  • Meka J
  • Knudsen E
  • Douglas D
 et al. 
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Abstract

Radiotelemetry was used to document population structure in adult rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss from the Alagnak River, southwest Alaska. Rainbow trout (N  134) longer than 440 mm were implanted with radio transmitters and tracked for varying periods from July 1997 to April 1999. Fifty-eight radio-tagged fish were tracked for sufficient duration (at least 11 months) to allow description of seasonal migratory patterns. Unique seasonal movements of fish suggested discrete, within-basin population structure. Telemetry data documented the existence of multiple migratory and nonmigratory groups of rainbow trout, indicating unique life history pat- terns. The observed groups consisted of what we defined as a lake-resident ecotype, a lake–river ecotype, and a riverine ecotype; the riverive ecotype demonstrated both highly migratory and nonmigratory movement behavior. Considerable variation in movement patterns was found within both the lake–river group and the river migratory group. Radio-tagged trout did not migrate between the two Alagnak watershed lakes in either year of the study, suggesting lake fidelity in the pop- ulation structure. Alagnak River rainbow trout may have evolved the observed seasonal movement patterns to optimize winter thermal refugia and summer food availability of salmon eggs and carcasses.

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Authors

  • Julie M. Meka

  • E. Eric Knudsen

  • David C. Douglas

  • Robert B. Benter

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