Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2015

Open-File Report 2017-1059
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By: , and 


Executive Summary

Data from a long-term capture-recapture program were used to assess the status and dynamics of populations of two long-lived, federally endangered catostomids in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Lost River suckers (LRS; Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (SNS; Chasmistes brevirostris) have been captured and tagged with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags during their spawning migrations in each year since 1995. In addition, beginning in 2005, individuals that had been previously PIT-tagged were re-encountered on remote underwater antennas deployed throughout sucker spawning areas. Captures and remote encounters during the spawning season in spring 2015 were incorporated into capture-recapture analyses of population dynamics. Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) open population capture-recapture models were used to estimate annual survival probabilities, and a reverse-time analog of the CJS model was used to estimate recruitment of new individuals into the spawning populations. In addition, data on the size composition of captured fish were examined to provide corroborating evidence of recruitment. Separate analyses were done for each species and also for each subpopulation of LRS. Shortnose suckers and one subpopulation of LRS migrate into tributary rivers to spawn, whereas the other LRS subpopulation spawns at groundwater upwelling areas along the eastern shoreline of the lake. Characteristics of the spawning migrations in 2015, such as the effects of temperature on the timing of the migrations, were similar to past years.

Capture-recapture analyses for the LRS subpopulation that spawns at the shoreline areas included encounter histories for 13,617 individuals, and analyses for the subpopulation that spawns in the rivers included 39,321 encounter histories. With a few exceptions, the survival of males and females in both subpopulations was high (greater than or equal to 0.86) between 1999 and 2013. Survival was notably lower for males from the rivers in 2000, 2006, and 2012. Survival probabilities were lower for males from the shoreline areas in 2002. Between 2001 and 2014, the abundance of males in the lakeshore spawning subpopulation decreased by at least 59 percent and the abundance of females decreased by at least 53 percent. By combining information from capture-recapture models and size composition data, we concluded that the abundance of both sexes in the river spawning subpopulation of LRS likely has decreased at rates similar to the rates for the lakeshore spawning subpopulation between 2002 and 2014. Capture-recapture analyses for SNS included encounter histories for 20,981 individuals. Most annual survival estimates between 2005 and 2009 were high (greater than 0.88), but both sexes of SNS experienced lower and more variable survival in 2001–04 and 2010–13. The best-case scenario for SNS, based on capture-recapture recruitment modeling, indicates that the abundance of males in the spawning population decreased by 77 percent and the abundance of females decreased by 74 percent between 2001 and 2014. Decreases in abundance for both sexes likely are greater than these estimates indicate. Despite relatively high survival in most years, we conclude that both species have experienced substantial decreases in the abundance of spawning adults because losses from mortality have not been balanced by recruitment of new individuals. The status of the endangered sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake remains worrisome, especially for SNS.

Suggested Citation

Hewitt, D.A., Janney, E.C., Hayes, B.S., and Harris, A.C., 2017, Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1059, 38 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • Project Funding
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2015
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2017-1059
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171059
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description iv, 38 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Upper Klamath Lake
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details