An urban stream can support a healthy population of coastal cutthroat trout

Abstract

Urbanization presents numerous challenges to aquatic species. For fish, typical threats include altered flow dynamics, poor water quality, and degraded food webs. These threats can be detrimental to fish and whether urban environments can support healthy populations is unclear. Tryon Creek is one of the largest urban watersheds in Portland, Oregon where developed land accounts for 55.6% of total land use. We used demographic, life history, disease, and genetic indices to assess the overall health of the Coastal Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) population in Tryon Creek. Results of these population indicators were within ranges for streams with Coastal Cutthroat Trout populations not influenced by urbanization and considered healthy. Coastal Cutthroat Trout in Tryon Creek exhibited a mean condition factor of 1.07 (95% CI 0.95–1.19, range 0.94–1.24), four size-classes, an estimated density of 0.01–0.03 individuals/m2, and migratory behavior. The population did not exhibit excessive deviation from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Genetic diversity in Tryon Creek (He = 0.76; allelic richness = 6.6) was comparable to that observed in non-urbanized streams in the Mt. Hood National Forest (He = 0.72; allelic richness = 5.6). Moreover, allele frequencies appeared stable, and no genetic divergence was detected among generations (F ST ~0.00; non-significant allele frequency heterogeneity tests). The population tested negative for 12 different pathogens and results for Renibacterium salmoninarum were inconclusive. The characteristics of Coastal Cutthroat Trout in Tryon Creek were similar to populations not influenced by urbanization which suggests an urban stream can support a healthy fish population.

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Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the City of Portland, particularly Jennifer Devlin, Kaitlin Lovell, and Cindy Studebaker, for their support of this investigation and their leadership in urban ecology. Additional thanks to the City of Lake Oswego, Friends of Tryon Creek, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, Tryon Creek Watershed Council, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their involvement in the management and restoration of Tryon Creek. We are grateful to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Abernathy Fish Technology Center Genetics Laboratory for technical assistance provided by Jennifer Von Bargen and Justin Bohling who provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript and to Julianne Harris at the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office who provided Bayesian analysis. We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions, which helped us to improve the manuscript. This study was funded, in part, by the City of Portland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The findings and conclusions in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Correspondence to Brook P. Silver.

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References, comparison parameters, and locations of non-urban Coastal Cutthroat Trout populations used in this study (PDF 15 kb)

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Silver, B.P., Hudson, J.M., Smith, C.T. et al. An urban stream can support a healthy population of coastal cutthroat trout. Urban Ecosyst 21, 291–304 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-017-0711-0

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Keywords

  • Urban
  • Coastal cutthroat trout
  • Ecology
  • Population
  • Health