Ecological Assessment and Evaluation of Potential Eradication Approaches for Introduced Redside Shiners in a Montane Lake

Troy W. Smith, Brad W. Liermann, Lisa A. Eby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduced species can alter the dynamics of food webs, species interactions, populations, and communities and can reduce a system’s recreational value. Several reports have documented the establishment of Redside Shiners Richardsonius balteatus in mountain lakes, resulting in declines in sizes and abundance of salmonid species. An illegal bait bucket release introduced Redside Shiners into Green Canyon Lake, Montana, USA, in the 1980s. Recently, local anglers began complaining of decreases in size and catch rates of Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi. Our first objective was to understand the diet overlap between Redside Shiners and WCT in Green Canyon Lake. Based on δ15N and δ13C isotopic signatures and diet contents, we found little evidence that WCT were substantially preying upon Redside Shiners. We found moderate diet overlap between WCT and Redside Shiners, with both species predominately feeding on Diptera. For our second objective, we developed a population model to assess potential options for eradicating Redside Shiners. We observed Redside Shiners up to 7 years of age and with a maximum TL of 159 mm, high annual survival (50%), and mature females at age 2. We used an age-structured model to evaluate two hypothetical suppression actions: piscicide application and stocking of Rainbow Trout O. mykiss. Four consecutive piscicide treatments had a 20% probability of eradicating Redside Shiners, increasing to a 100% eradication probability after seven treatments. Bioenergetic simulations indicated that an individual Rainbow Trout (500 g) would consume 1,759 g of Redside Shiners annually. Incorporating this predation mortality and a compensatory response (50% increase in age-1 survival), we estimated that maintained abundances of up to 700 Rainbow Trout would not cause a decline in the Redside Shiner population. Our results suggest that eradication of an introduced prey fish like the Redside Shiner would be difficult and that effective removal will require dedicated effort and resources by managers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1489
Number of pages17
JournalNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management
Volume41
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

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