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Article

Two Ocean Pass: An Alternative Hypothesis for the Invasion of Yellowstone Lake by Lake Trout, and Implications for Future Invasions

1
U.S. National Park Service, Yellowstone Center for Resources, Native Fish Conservation Program, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
2
U.S. Geological Survey, Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Department of Ecology, Montana State University, MSU–P.O. Box 173460, Bozeman, MT 59717-3460, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(6), 1629; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061629
Received: 17 April 2020 / Revised: 3 June 2020 / Accepted: 4 June 2020 / Published: 6 June 2020
Preventing the interbasin transfer of aquatic invasive species is a high priority for natural resource managers. Such transfers can be made by humans or can occur by dispersal through connected waterways. A natural surface water connection between the Atlantic and Pacific drainages in North America exists at Two Ocean Pass south of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri used this route to cross the Continental Divide and colonize the Yellowstone River from ancestral sources in the Snake River following glacial recession 14,000 bp. Nonnative lake trout Salvelinus namaycush were stocked into lakes in the Snake River headwaters in 1890 and quickly dispersed downstream. Lake trout were discovered in Yellowstone Lake in 1994 and were assumed to have been illegally introduced. Recently, lake trout have demonstrated their ability to move widely through river systems and invade headwater lakes in Glacier National Park. Our objective was to determine if lake trout and other nonnative fish were present in the connected waters near Two Ocean Pass and could thereby colonize the Yellowstone River basin in the past or future. We used environmental DNA (eDNA), electrofishing, and angling to survey for lake trout and other fishes. Yellowstone cutthroat trout were detected at nearly all sites on both sides of the Continental Divide. Lake trout and invasive brook trout S. fontinalis were detected in Pacific Creek near its confluence with the Snake River. We conclude that invasive movements by lake trout from the Snake River over Two Ocean Pass may have resulted in their colonization of Yellowstone Lake. Moreover, Yellowstone Lake may be vulnerable to additional invasions because several other nonnative fish inhabit the upper Snake River. In the future, eDNA collected across smaller spatial intervals in Pacific Creek during flow conditions more conducive to lake trout movement may provide further insight into the extent of non-native fish invasions in this stream. View Full-Text
Keywords: cutthroat trout; environmental DNA; invasion risk; nonnative fish; Salvelinus; Snake River; national park; wilderness pathway cutthroat trout; environmental DNA; invasion risk; nonnative fish; Salvelinus; Snake River; national park; wilderness pathway
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    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832883
    Link: https://zenodo.org/record/3832883#.XsMwcWhKiUk
    Description: Video S1. Two Ocean Pass South of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Two Ocean Pass connects the headwaters of the Atlantic and Pacific drainages in the Bridger-Teton Wilderness of Wyoming south of Yellowstone National Park. Here, a broad alpine meadow straddles the Continental Divide at 2,478 m elevation, and headwaters of the Columbia and Missouri drainages originate from a single perennial stream; North Two Ocean Creek flows along the Continental Divide and branches into Pacific Creek, a Snake River tributary flowing to the west, and Atlantic Creek, a Yellowstone River tributary flowing to the east. The pass is a nearly level meadow near the center of which is a marsh that becomes a small lake in times of wet weather or snowmelt runoff. No barrier prevents the movement and mixing of fish between Pacific Creek and Atlantic Creek. Following glacial recession from the region about 14,000 years ago, ancestral Yellowstone cutthroat trout colonized the Yellowstone River drainage from sources in the lower Snake River drainage over Two Ocean Pass. They dispersed downstream and were the only trout inhabiting Yellowstone Lake for thousands of years prior to the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. The watershed of the Yellowstone River upstream of Yellowstone Lake, including Two Ocean Pass, is among the most remote in the contiguous United States and lies largely within protected federal wilderness. In July 2019, Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists, with assistance from Wyoming Trout Unlimited and the Wyoming Storer Foundation, sampled environmental DNA in the connected waters near Two Ocean Pass. The sampling was conducted to determine if invasive lake trout or other nonnative fish were present, and could thereby colonize the Yellowstone River basin in the past or future and threaten native cutthroat trout of Yellowstone Lake.
MDPI and ACS Style

Koel, T.M.; Detjens, C.R.; Zale, A.V. Two Ocean Pass: An Alternative Hypothesis for the Invasion of Yellowstone Lake by Lake Trout, and Implications for Future Invasions. Water 2020, 12, 1629. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061629

AMA Style

Koel TM, Detjens CR, Zale AV. Two Ocean Pass: An Alternative Hypothesis for the Invasion of Yellowstone Lake by Lake Trout, and Implications for Future Invasions. Water. 2020; 12(6):1629. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061629

Chicago/Turabian Style

Koel, Todd M., Colleen R. Detjens, and Alexander V. Zale. 2020. "Two Ocean Pass: An Alternative Hypothesis for the Invasion of Yellowstone Lake by Lake Trout, and Implications for Future Invasions" Water 12, no. 6: 1629. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061629

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