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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Methods for estimation of cyclic recruitment variation in pygmy northern pikeminnow (ptychochelius oregonensis) of south central British Columbia. Hawkshaw, Michael Andrew


A long term study of fish populations on the Bonaparte Plateau, B.C., has revealed the possibility of 2-year cyclic recruitment variation in the pygmy pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis). This thesis reviews possible causes of the cycle, and evaluates an inexpensive and non-destructive visual survey method to estimate juvenile population numbers over short summer periods while pikeminnow juveniles are recruiting to the lakes and dying rapidly, for use in future studies of the cyclic pattern. To provide an index of the abundance of juvenile pikeminnow, strip-transect surveys were conducted from shore. Each strip transect area was a full circumference of each of three study lakes, and extended from shore to a distance of up to 3 meters offshore. The visual surveys were shown to be accurate and repeatable when estimating the number of fish and the lengths of the fish in a shoal. The strip transects provide an index of abundance for juvenile northern pikeminnow and this index of abundance can be used to calculate daily summer and interannual mortality rates, providing estimates close to those predicted from the Lorenzen model for size-dependent mortality rates of fish in general. Stationary point surveys were also conducted to investigate juvenile pikeminnow behaviour, and these point surveys reveal a link between sunlight intensity and pikeminnow activity, and provide evidence of direct agonistic interactions between age 0 and age 1 juveniles, which could result in higher mortality rates of age 0 fish when age 1 fish are abundant. Analysis of survey data collected to date over five years from three lakes supports the possibility of a recruitment cycle with lakes out of phase with each other, suggesting that ecological interactions drive the cycles. These interactions are worthy of further investigation.

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