Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Identifying the threats of smallmouth bass to yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Yellowstone River


April 2016 - May 2019


The activities for this project are multifaceted and will be used to specifically identify the current and likely future threats of smallmouth bass to Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Yellowstone River, a high priority conservation watershed. The results will help identify and prioritize potential management actions to control and reduce the effects of smallmouth bass, thus allowing for more effective use of resources to enhance the conservation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The specific activities will include:

1) Radiotelemetry data collection.—The student will use radio tracking surveys to describe the seasonal habitat use of adult smallmouth bass (both male and female). Data will span different seasons given potential differences in movement during spawning and foraging (Lawrence et al. 2012). Such information will help understand factors influencing fish behavior, augment information from distribution-only data (see below), and identify specific locations that managers can target for smallmouth bass control efforts .
2) Quantify smallmouth bass distribution.— The student will use electrofishing surveys to quantify smallmouth bass distribution across multiple life-stages. In addition, the student will work with existing professionals (i.e., fishing guides) along the Yellowstone River to capture additional information on distribution. Finally, the student will merge these data with existing distribution data collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) over the past 3 decades to allow for spatial and temporal (within and across years) datasets.
3) Quantify potential effects of smallmouth bass predation.— The student will leverage existing sampling efforts conducted by MTWFP to collect smallmouth bass diet data. In addition, the student will augment such data with targeted sampling across seasons and sections of the river and diet samples collected by fishing guides and recreational anglers.
4) Model effects of smallmouth bass expansion on Yellowstone cutthroat.— The student will integrate the different data sources with existing stocking information, hydrologic information ( and stream temperature data and models (Al-Chokhachy et al. 2013) to understand the factors influencing smallmouth bass distribution. The student will link such models with diet data and smallmouth bass bioenergetics models to identify current and future threats of smallmouth bass on Yellowstone cutthroat trout.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 99

Masters Students: 225

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 247

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 658

Scientific Publications: 1872

Presentations: 4186



Funding Agencies

  • Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey