My lab is collaborating with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and other groups to study the seasonal movements and energy budgets of redband rainbow trout in the Upper Klamath Basin. Much of this watershed becomes uninhabitable for salmonids during summer, as water temperatures exceed 25 degrees C, pH reaches >9.5, and dissolved oxygen often dips below 3 mg/L. We are exploring how these fish move across the watershed to exploit seasonally complimentary habitats. Our preliminary research has yielded exciting results; some of our radio-tagged fish travelled over 300 km in a single year, moving among habitat patches that support specific functions, such as coldwater refugia, foraging, and spawning. Graduate student Nick Hahlbeck is working on this project. Our preliminary results have already influenced policy, contributing to an emergency angling closure to protect spawning fish on the Sprague River.
A male redband trout in a large spring network contained within Upper Klamath Lake (photo by Jason Ching)ODFW collaborator Bill Tenniswood with a ~ 3 kg redband rainbow trout that we radio-tagged.
A groundwater dominated tributary that redband rainbow trout used for spawning
Graduate student Nick Hahlbeck configuring a stationary radio telemetry station at the entrance to Pelican Bay, Upper Klamath Lake.
Upper Klamath Lake at dawn
The Williamson River, a groundwater influenced tributary of Upper Klamath Lake that provides both coldwater refuge and spawning habitat for redband rainbow trout.
A post-spawn male in a small tributary of the Williamson River during January
A pair of redband trout spawn in Spring Creek, among the largest sources of groundwater in the basin (photo by Jason Ching)