Native fishes in desert rivers
With partners at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Utah Department of Wildlife Resources, along with Biomark Inc., I have assisted in a variety of PIT tag implementations (e.g., fixed antenna arrays, floating detection system) to better understand and track the movement of native fishes in desert rivers across the Upper Colorado River Basin (e.g., White, Price, San Juan Rivers).
Overall, our goals were to better understand important life-history adaptations and habitat criteria of the 'three species'-- the bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus), flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latpinnis), and roundtail chub (Gila robusta), as well as endangered species-- Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), and the bonytail (Gila elegans).
Specifically, on the White River, Utah, we used an innovative Floating PIT-tag Detection System during base-flow conditions to detect PIT-tagged fish and concurrently map habitat use. We conducted fine-scale habitat assessments to determine in-stream habitat availability, and were able to quantify specific reach-scale habitat metrics at the point of detection for specific tagged fishes.
[cover photo: UDWR crew float by a typical large wood debris jam on the White River]