The Goose Creek subbasin in the Upper Snake River Basin has a diverse native fish assemblage that reflects the presence of rare non-game species and peripheral populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. This assessment examines linkages between native fishes and their habitat in the Goose Creek subbasin with several key findings: 1) fish diversity is linked to habitat diversity, and habitat diversity is linked to stream condition; 2) various elements of habitat complexity are important to several native fishes at different spatial scales; and 3) land management focused on riparian and stream health is important in maintaining the habitat complexity important to fish community diversity and sensitive fish species that are rare in the Upper Snake River Basin.
**NOTE: this link from the old website needs to be redirected to this page: www.tu.org/goose-creek-assessment
Dauwalter, D.C., and K.A. Fesenmyer. 2017. The Importance of Habitat Complexity to Stream Fishes: A Multi-Scale Assessment in Goose Creek, Upper Snake River Basin. Trout Unlimited, Arlington, Virginia.
Fish and habitat surveys in the Goose Creek watershed show fish diversity increases in response to diversity in flows, depths, cover, and substrate, and that streams in poorer condition (from roads, grazing, etc.) have low habitat diversity. Storyboard here.
Walrath, J.D., D.C. Dauwalter, D. Reinke. 2016. Influence of stream condition on habitat diversity and fish assemblages in an impaired upper Snake River Basin watershed. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 145:821-834. This study showed the linkage between habitat diversity and fish diversity in the Goose Creek subbasin on the Idaho, Utah, and Nevada border.
The northern leatherside chub has a patchy distribution across its range and has anecdotally been observed to occur in stream reaches with high habitat complexity. In this study we showed that leatherside chubs in Goose Creek occur in areas with high streamflow complexity and that streamflow complexity is often higher when there are active or abandoned beaver dams present, thus confirming anecdotal observations made by others.
Yellowstone cutthroat trout rarely occur in sympatry with brook trout in the Goose Creek watershed, and when they do, age-0 cutthroat trout are commonly in poor condition (low weight per unit length). This suggests that age-0 brook trout outcompete age-0 cutthroat trout, as has been shown elsewhere across the West where introduced brook trout have widely displaced native cutthroat trout populations.
We found that sensitive species like northern leatherside chub select for areas within streams that have overhead cover, which often is in the form of mature woody riparian vegetation and flow complexity associated with beaver dams.
Dauwalter, D.C., S.J. Wenger, P. Gardner. 2014. The role of complexity in habitat use and selection by stream fishes in a Snake River Basin tributary. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143(5):1177-1187
We found riparian exclosures in the Goose Creek Group Allotment to benefit woody riparian vegetation but not all aquatic biota that are typically influenced by watershed-scale factors. Thus, riparian exclosures should be one of several grazing management tools implemented simultaneously to promote and improve stream health at larger scales relevant to most aquatic biota in the presence of livestock grazing.