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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 
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Monday, January 28 • 10:40am - 10:50am
(FISHERIES: LIGHTNING TALK) Influence of Mink Predation on Brown Trout Survival and Size-Structure in Rapid Creek, South Dakota

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AUTHORS: Austin G. Galinat, South Dakota State University; Steven R. Chipps, USGS South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit ; Jonathan A. Jenks, South Dakota State University

ABSTRACT: In the early 2000’s, annual population surveys indicated that abundance of adult brown trout (Salmo trutta; >200 mm) in Rapid Creek, South Dakota had declined by approximately 70% and currently, the factors influencing survival are poorly understood. Recent studies show that growth and condition of brown trout in Rapid Creek are high compared to other Black Hills populations and diet analysis shows that food availability is an unlikely source of mortality. However, a recent study discovered that predation by mink (Mustela vison) accounted for 32% of brown trout mortality in Rapid Creek. Limited refuge habitat combined with high water clarity in Rapid Creek may enhance capture and foraging success by mink on adult trout. Moreover, the lack of stationary ice cover in tail water reaches, like that of our study area, has been linked to increased predation on trout by predators such as mink. Three experimental sites along Rapid Creek have been selected: (1) in-stream habitat improvement, (2) mink removal, and (3) control. Eight fish from each section were surgically implanted with radio transmitters and tracked for six months. Mortality has been observed at all study sites. 50% of predation in the habitat improvement site (n=4) and 25% of predation in the control site (n=2) is attributed to mink. 25% of predation in the mink removal site (n=2) is attributed to avian predators. Currently, another six month fish tracking period is underway. Survival estimates will be assessed between the three fish populations using mark-recapture survey techniques. Additionally, mink are being captured, implanted with radio transmitters, and tracked to determine movement and home ranges. Data gathered in this study will provide insight into the effectiveness of management techniques such as instream habitat improvements and predator block management on trout populations.

Monday January 28, 2019 10:40am - 10:50am EST