Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Montana Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Montana Fishery Project

Lake trout population modeling and annual assessment of suppression netting

September 2016 - August 2021


Participating Agencies

  • Yellowstone National Park

Invasive species introductions cause reductions in populations of native species and are associated with negative environmental and economic effects. Suppression techniques including chemical, mechanical, and biological controls are commonly used to manage invasive species. Understanding the ecosystem-level influence of suppression techniques selected by natural resource agencies is essential for establishment of successful mitigation against invasive species and assisting native populations in an altered ecosystem. Invasive Lake Trout within Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming have greatly reduced the abundance of native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout and disrupted the ecosystem through food-web alteration. The National Park Service gillnets juvenile and adult Lake Trout, and a portion of the Lake Trout carcasses collected are subsequently placed on Lake Trout spawning sites to suppress embryo development. The novel concentration of nutrients from Lake Trout carcasses could further influence the adult stages of Lake Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout by providing concentrated areas of prey not historically available. We will determine if carcass material is changing the diets of fishes in Yellowstone Lake and the trophic structure of the food web using diet and stable isotope analysis. We collected diets from 1,025 fishes in Yellowstone Lake and tissue from 359 individual fish during the 2018 field season. This study will provide information that will allow for an understanding of the consequences associated with a novel-suppression action in Yellowstone Lake.