Rainbow Trout and Their Hybrids Out compete Cutthroat Trout in a Lentic Ecosystem?Joshua M Courtney1, Amy C Courtney1, Michael W Courtney2*
- *Corresponding Author:
- Michael W Courtney
Accepted date: April 19, 2013; Published date: May 7, 2013
Much has been written about introduced rainbow trout interbreeding and outcompeting native cutthroat trout. However, the specific mechanisms by which rainbow trout and their hybrids outcompete cutthroat trout have not been thoroughly explored, and most of the published data is limited to lotic ecosystems. Samples of Snake River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri), the rainbow-cutthroat hybrid, the cutbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss x clarkii), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), were obtained from a lentic ecosystem (Eleven Mile Reservoir, Colorado) by creel surveys conducted from May to October, 2012. The total length and weight of each fish was measured and the relative condition factor of each fish was computed using expected weight from weight-length relationships from the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CDPW). Data from the CDPW collected from 2003 ? 2010 in the same lentic ecosystem were used to compute relative condition factors for additional comparison, as was independent creel survey data from 2011. The data was also compared with minimum, 25th percentile, mean, 75th percentile, and maximum weight-length curves generated from independent North American data. Cutthroat trout were plump: the mean relative condition factor of the cutthroat trout was 112.0% (? 1.0%). Cutbow hybrid trout were close to the expected weights with a mean relative condition factor of 99.8% (? 0.6%). Rainbow trout were thinner with a mean relative condition factor of 96.4% (? 1.4%). Comparing mean relative condition factors of CDPW data from earlier years and plotting the 2012 data relative to percentile curves also shows the same trend of cutthroat trout being plumper than expected and rainbow trout being thinner than the cutthroat trout, with the hybrid cutbow trout in between. This data supports the hypothesis that rainbow trout do not outcompete cutthroat trout in lentic ecosystems. Comparison with data from three other Colorado reservoirs also shows that cutthroat trout tend to be more plump than rainbow trout and their hybrids in sympatric lentic ecosystems.