Colonial waterbird predation on Lost River and Shortnose suckers in the Upper Klamath Basin

North American Journal of Fisheries Management
By: , and 



We evaluated predation on Lost River Suckers Deltistes luxatus and Shortnose Suckers Chasmistes brevirostris by American white pelicans Pelecanus erythrorhynchos and double-crested cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus nesting at mixed-species colonies in the Upper Klamath Basin of Oregon and California during 2009–2014. Predation was evaluated by recovering (detecting) PIT tags from tagged fish on bird colonies and calculating minimum predation rates, as the percentage of available suckers consumed, adjusted for PIT tag detection probabilities but not deposition probabilities (i.e., probability an egested tag was deposited on- or off-colony). Results indicate that impacts of avian predation varied by sucker species, age-class (adult, juvenile), bird colony location, and year, demonstrating dynamic predator–prey interactions. Tagged suckers ranging in size from 72 to 730 mm were susceptible to cormorant or pelican predation; all but the largest Lost River Suckers were susceptible to bird predation. Minimum predation rate estimates ranged annually from <0.1% to 4.6% of the available PIT-tagged Lost River Suckers and from <0.1% to 4.2% of the available Shortnose Suckers, and predation rates were consistently higher on suckers in Clear Lake Reservoir, California, than on suckers in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. There was evidence that bird predation on juvenile suckers (species unknown) in Upper Klamath Lake was higher than on adult suckers in Upper Klamath Lake, where minimum predation rates ranged annually from 5.7% to 8.4% of available juveniles. Results suggest that avian predation is a factor limiting the recovery of populations of Lost River and Shortnose suckers, particularly juvenile suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and adult suckers in Clear Lake Reservoir. Additional research is needed to measure predator-specific PIT tag deposition probabilities (which, based on other published studies, could increase predation rates presented herein by a factor of roughly 2.0) and to better understand biotic and abiotic factors that regulate sucker susceptibility to bird predation.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Colonial waterbird predation on Lost River and Shortnose suckers in the Upper Klamath Basin
Series title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
DOI 10.1080/02755947.2016.1208123
Volume 36
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Publisher location Lawrence, KS
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
First page 1254
Last page 1268
Country United States
State California, Oregon
Other Geospatial Upper Klamath Basin
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