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Origins of invasive piscivores determined from the strontium isotope ratio (87Sr/86Sr) of otoliths

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We examined strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in fish otoliths to determine the origins of invasive piscivores in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB, western USA). We examined 87Sr/86Sr from fishes in different reservoirs, as well as the temporal stability and interspecies variability of 87Sr/86Sr of fishes within reservoirs, determined if 87Sr/86Sr would be useful for “fingerprinting” reservoirs where invasive piscivores may have been escaping into riverine habitat of endangered fishes in the UCRB, and looked for evidence that such movement was occurring. Our results showed that in most cases 87Sr/86Sr was unique among reservoirs, overlapped among species in a given reservoir, and was temporally stable across years. We identified the likely reservoir of origin of river-caught fish in some cases, and we were also able to determine the year of possible escapement. The approach allowed us to precisely describe the 87Sr/86Sr fingerprint of reservoir fishes, trace likely origins of immigrant river fish, and exclude potential sources, enabling managers to focus control efforts more efficiently. Our results demonstrate the potential utility of 87Sr/86Sr as a site-specific and temporally stable marker for reservoir fish and its promise for tracking fish movements of invasive fishes in river–reservoir systems.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, 1474 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. 2: Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Colorado State University, 1484 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. 3: US Fish and Wildlife Service, 674 Horizon Drive Building B, Grand Junction, CO 81506, USA. 4: US Geological Survey, Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Colorado State University, 1484 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Publication date: 2012-04-08

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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