Use of similar habitat by cutthroat trout and brown trout in a regulated river during winter
Dare, M. R.
Hubert, W. A.
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Few differences in habitat use of cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki; n=20) and brown trout (Salmo trutta fario; n=20) were observed during winter (between 15 November 1997 and 31 March 1998) in the Shoshone River, a regulated river in northwestern Wyoming, USA. Radiotagged fish of 20-30 cm total length were found in pool habitat five to six times more frequently than would be expected if they were using pools in proportion to pool availability. Nevertheless, run habitat was most frequently used by both species. The microhabitat characteristics at locations of each species were similar when in both pools and runs, however, habitat use was variable suggesting that a variety of microhabitats were suitable over-wintering habitat. Brown trout were more frequently associated with boulder cover than were cutthroat trout. Cutthroat trout used large pools that provided refuge from high water velocities more frequently that brown trout. Cutthroat trout and brown trout were found at similar distances from the bank except in late February when cutthroat trout were farther from the bank. Both species moved frequently during the winter, but cutthroat trout showed a greater propensity than brown trout to move long distances. This study suggests that during a mild winter in a stable environment, these species were able to overwinter successfully in a variety of habitats.