ABSTRACT: Recovery of imperiled fishes can be achieved through suppression of invasives, but outcomes may vary with environmental conditions. We studied the response of imperiled desert fishes to an invasive brown (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) suppression program in a Colorado River tributary, with natural flow and longitudinal variation in thermal characteristics. We investigated trends in fish populations related to suppression and tested hypotheses about the impacts of salmonid densities, hydrologic variation, and spatial–thermal gradients on the distribution and abundance of native fish species using zero-inflated generalized linear mixed effects models. Between 2012 and 2018, salmonids declined 89%, and native fishes increased dramatically (∼480%) once trout suppression surpassed ∼60%. Temperature and trout density were consistently retained in the top models predicting the abundance and distribution of native fishes. The greatest increases occurred in warmer reaches and in years with spring flooding. Surprisingly, given the evolution of native fishes in disturbance-prone systems, intense, monsoon-driven flooding limited native fish recruitment. Applied concertedly, invasive species suppression and efforts to mimic natural flow and thermal regimes may allow rapid and widespread native fish recovery.
While the ecology and evolution of partial migratory systems (defined broadly to include skip spawning) have been well studied, we are only beginning to under- stand how partial migratory populations are responding to ongoing environmen- tal change. Environmental change can lead to differences in the fitness of residents and migrants, which could eventually lead to changes in the frequency of the strategies in the overall population. Here, we address questions concerning the life history of the endangered Gila cypha (humpback chub) in the regulated Colorado River and the unregulated tributary and primary spawning area, the Little Colorado River. We develop eight multistate models for the population based on three movement hypotheses, in which states are defined in terms of fish size classes and river locations. We fit these models to mark–recapture data col- lected in 2009–2012. We compare survival and growth estimates between the Col- orado River and Little Colorado River and calculate abundances for all size classes. The best model supports the hypotheses that larger adults spawn more frequently than smaller adults, that there are residents in the spawning grounds, and that juveniles move out of the Little Colorado River in large numbers during the monsoon season (July–September). Monthly survival rates for G. cypha in the Colorado River are higher than in the Little Colorado River in all size classes; however, growth is slower. While the hypothetical life histories of life-long resi- dents in the Little Colorado River and partial migrants spending most of its time in the Colorado River are very different, they lead to roughly similar fitness expectations when we used expected number of spawns as a proxy. However, more research is needed because our study period covers a period of years when conditions in the Colorado River for G. cypha are likely to have been better than has been typical over the last few decades.