Date of Award
Master of Science (MS) in Biology
This was the first study to report on the fish assemblage of the Colville River watershed, Stevens County, Washington. Sixty-nine sites were sampled from May – November of 2013, 19 in the Colville River and 50 in its tributaries: Blue Creek (n=2), Chewelah Creek (n=6), Cottonwood Creek (n=2), Deer Creek (n=2), Gold Creek (n=3),Haller Creek (n=2), Huckleberry Creek (n=3), Jump Off Joe Creek (n=2), Little Pend Oreille River (n=11), Mill Creek (n=8), Paye Creek (n=1), Sheep Creek (n=2), Sherwood Creek (n=2), Stensgar Creek (n=2), Stranger Creek (n=1), and Thomason Creek (n=1). Sites were sampled using backpack electrofishing, seine nets, and minnow traps. A total of 4,314 fish were captured representing six families and 28 species. The species (relative abundance) were: carp (3.5%), peamouth (>0.1%), northern pikeminnow (0.3 %), longnose dace (3.4 %), Umatilla dace (3.8 %), speckled dace (14.7%), redside shiner (13.7%), tench (0.3 %), longnose sucker (1.7 %), bridgelip sucker (>0.1%), largescale sucker (1.2%), lake whitefish (>0.1%), mountain whitefish (0.3 %), westslope cutthroat trout (>0.1%), coastal rainbow trout (8.0%), interior rainbow trout (14.1%), brown trout (8.0%), brook trout (11.0%), prickly sculpin (2.9%), mottled sculpin (2.6%), slimy sculpin (>0.1%), shorthead sculpin (1.1%), torrent sculpin (7.6%), green sunfish (>0.1%), pumpkinseed (1.1%), bluegill (>0.1%), largemouth bass (>0.1%), and yellow perch (0.5%). The stocking record, water quality, and barrier falls were examined to assess the effects they potentially have on species distribution. Stocking was found to aid the distribution of non native trout (salmonids), sunfish (centrachids), and perch (percidae). Two water quality parameters were examined, water temperature (°C) and dissolved oxygen (mg/L). Neither was found to effect distribution. However, water temperature appeared to affect relative abundance, with different species relative abundances in the warmer Colville River compared to its cooler tributaries. Tributaries were cooler (average summer temperature= 12.8°C) and contained more salmonids (RA=73.4%) while the maintstem Colville had higher temperatures (average summer temperature= 17.7°C) and contained predominatly cyprinids (RA=71.2%).Waterfalls were examined to test the hypothesis that they were barrier falls to fish migration. I found that total numbers of fish species decreased above each waterfall, however stream size was more of a factor when comparing the average number of species found at each site (p<0.001). Life history data collected include age, diet, and fecundity. Fishes grew similar to that reported by many of the local lakes and streams however species that have a condition factor were found to grow at the average rate reported by Carlander (1969; 1977; 1997). Diet was consistent with reported diets by species. Fecundity of cyprinid species was within the ranged reported for each species. This study documented the presence of Umatilla dace in this watershed and reported on their growth, diet, and fecundity. Growth was found to be faster than reported by COSEWIC (2010) in British Columbia. Diet consisted primarily of trichopterans and detritus. Fecundity ranged from 474 to 2,134 eggs in females 86 to 115 mm in total length and 5 to 15 g in weight.
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Mettler, Aaron, "Relative Abundance, Distribution, and Life Histories of Fish Species in the Colville River Watershed, Stevens County, Washington" (2014). EWU Masters Thesis Collection. Paper 194.