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Habitat Suitability Criteria for Apache Trout

Arizona Coop Unit snorkeling in an Arizona mountain stream to enumerate Apache Trout.


August 2011 - December 2017


In the past 60 years, native fish species endemic to the southwestern United States have declined in abundance and range, resulting in the federal listing of the majority of these species (70%) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Apache trout, Oncorhynchus apache, a salmonid endemic to the White Mountains of east-central Arizona, is listed as threatened under the ESA. Major reasons for the decline and listed status of Apache trout include overfishing, drought, negative species interactions (non-native salmonids and crayfish) and habitat degradation. In order to maintain and successfully manage populations, managers need to know the parameters for suitable Apache trout habitat so that fish are stocked in areas with the highest survival and reproduction probabilities. This study was designed to develop habitat suitability criteria for Apache trout that will give managers the information to make informed decisions about recovery stream selection and barrier placement. Also, comparing habitat suitability criteria for other species (non-native salmonids or crayfish) to that of Apache trout will aid in understanding habitat usage and potential problem areas among species. We sampled three Apache trout streams, the West Fork of the Black River and East and West Forks of the Little Colorado River, to identify where fish were located (occupied vs. unoccupied) and measured habitat parameters (flow in ft/sec, depth, substrate, instream cover, overhead cover and temperature) at these occupied locations and unoccupied locations. These data were analyzed to determine quantitative habitat parameters suitable or preferred by Apache trout. Apache trout are likely to be found in areas with instream cover such as large woody debris (fallen logs/log jams), overhanging banks or aquatic vegetation, deep areas such as pools, and are limited in their range by suitable temperatures. A thesis was completed on this work, and results were published in 2017 in the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Partners include the USFWS.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Bonar, S. A., and S. J. Petre. 2015. Ground-Based Thermal Imaging of Stream Surface Temperatures: Technique and Evaluation. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 35:1209-1218.
  • Petre, S. J. and S. A. Bonar. 2017. Determination of habitat requirements for Apache Trout Oncorhynchus apache. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 146:1-15.


  • Petre, S. J. 2014. Habitat suitability criteria for Apache trout Oncorhynchus gilae apache and virile crayfish Orconectes virilis. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona,


  • Petre, S., and S. A. Bonar. 2013. Habitat suitability criteria for Virile Crayfish, a non-native species in Arizona. 143nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 8-12, 2013. POSTER PRESENTATION.
  • Petre, S., and S. A. Bonar. 2013. Using habitat to understand the distribution of Apache Trout, a rare Southwestern salmonid impacted by non-native crayfish. 143nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 8-12, 2013. CONTRIBUTED.
  • Petre, S., and S. Bonar. 2013 Habitat suitability criteria for Virile Crayfish, a non-native species in Arizona 45th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 20-24, Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • See All ...

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 245

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1948

Presentations: 4253



Funding Agencies

  • USGS/USFWS Science Support Program


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey