INVESTIGATING WHIRLING DISEASE in the UPPER BIG LOST RIVER BASIN of MACKAY, IDAHO
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Whirling Disease is a parasitic disorder causing skeletal deformities in susceptible salmonids. Trout Unlimited, a non-profit conservation and sportsfishing organization, is interested in the disease because it has been implicated in the population declines of inland trout species that occurred in the early 1980s in the upper Big Lost River Basin of Mackay, Idaho. Presence/absence and severity surveys were conducted in the basin previously, but not in the past decade. Rainbow trout sentinel fry exposures and wild fish monitoring was conducted in connected tributaries to determine the current distribution and prevalence of the disease, to identify streams where trout populations are unaffected and reproducing successfully and to guide future management. Distribution of the disease is similar to prior assessments, but severity of infection seems to have declined. Waters testing positive for Whirling Disease have temperature regimes that are significantly warmer than negative waters 36.5% of days surveyed. Infected waters also have significantly larger brook trout fry, suggesting early emergence of trout fry may coincide with high concentrations of the parasite that causes Whirling Disease.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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