Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Program in Ecology, Departmentof Zoology and Physiology
Graduate Advisor: Annika Walters
Streams and rivers of the Rocky Mountain region are characterized by harsh environmental conditions (e.g., flooding, drought, and ice formation) that limit the growth and production of fishes such cutthroat trout. However, groundwater input buffers spring-fed streams against seasonal variability in water temperature and discharge such that suitable habitat may persist year-round. I aim to evaluate the role of spring-fed streams to Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the upper Snake River watershed of northwest Wyoming. I will (1) quantify how groundwater input determines the capacity of streams to support juvenile cutthroat trout growth and production and (2) determine how groundwater input to streams regulates the demography of the mainstem Snake River metapopulation. This research will highlight how habitat and population diversity act to sustain Yellowstone cutthroat trout during a critical life stage. This research has direct implications for prioritizing costly habitat management strategies as it will highlight streams where habitat work will have the most impact.
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