Webinar: Prioritizing conservation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout across their range

Event Type: 
GNLCC Webinar
Date and Time: 
May 21, 2014 (All day)

Time: 12 pm Mountain /11 am Pacific

Presenter: Bradley B. Shepard, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bozeman, Montana

Co-authors: Robert Al-Chokhachy and Robert Gresswell, USGS Northern Rockies Science Center, Bozeman, Montana; Lee Nelson and Scott Opitz, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, Montana; Dan Garren, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Steve Yekel and Jason Burckhardt, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cody, Wyoming; Jack Williams and Amy Haak, Trout Unlimited, Boise, Idaho

Description: Resources available to conserve native trout are limited and must be targeted where conservation is most critical and likely to be successful. Using a grant from the GNLCC we collaborated with an Interagency Multi-State Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (YCT) Conservation Work Group to prioritize conservation across the range of YCT. This prioritization will target national resources to critical conservation needs. We developed and applied a set of ecological and opportunity-based conservation criteria using the experience and knowledge of field managers. Ecological criteria were representation (genetic integrity and uniqueness), resilience (length or area of occupied habitat), and redundancy (number of populations or tributaries). Opportunity-based criteria were ability to address imminent threats, feasibility, and public support. Both river basins and individual conservation populations were prioritized.

We concluded that all remaining conservation populations should be preserved or enhanced to ensure long-term persistence of YCT. Highest priority river basins were located at the core of the historical range. We assessed threats to the highest-priority conservation populations to prioritize conservation actions that could address the most pressing threats. Threats included nonnative species, human activities, habitat degradation, climate change, and disease. For many of the highest priority conservation populations the threat posed by nonnative species was of the most immediate concern and must be addressed if those populations are to persist.


map of river basins showing high priority and high opportunity

Legend - Dark teal: 15 of 41 "high priority" river basins; light blue: 2 "high opportunity" river basins