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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2012 > Article Detail

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Something's Fishy

To the editors:

I was excited by the photo of beautiful Yellowstone cutthroat trout on the front cover of the May–June 2012 American Scientist but extremely dismayed when I read the caption inside. Slough Creek is not a tributary of Yellowstone Lake but is a tributary to the Lamar River, which enters the Yellowstone River downstream of the lake and Grand Canyon that includes Yellowstone Falls. Slough Creek is typical native Yellowstone cutthroat trout habitat with no possible connection with Yellowstone Lake or associated non-native invasive species.

Clear, Cub, Pelican and Bridge Creeks are tributaries to Yellowstone Lake on which extensive fisheries research was conducted on Yellowstone cutthroat trout during the 1960s by a team of graduate students from Montana State University. Here was a nearly obligate lotic species that had successfully adapted to the Yellowstone Lake environment by utilizing the stream tributaries for reproduction. This presented numerous questions regarding orientation and homing, resulting in some very interesting research.

The subsequent surreptitious introduction of non-native lake trout into Yellowstone Lake in the late 1980s has all but eliminated the large spawning populations of cutthroat trout that were abundant in the lake tributaries each spring. Sadly, it will be extremely difficult to reverse this disaster in this large lake.

Quentin J. Stober
University of Washington (retired)
Carrollton, GA

The editors respond:

Dr. Stober, a fisheries scientist who has studied cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake, is of course correct; the error was that of the editors.


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