Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 47–57 | Cite as

Using spatial, seasonal, and diel drift patterns of larval Lost River suckers Deltistes luxatus (Cypriniformes: Catostomidae) and shortnose suckers Chasmistes brevirostris (Cypriniformes: Catostomidae) to help identify a site for a water withdrawal structure on the Williamson River, Oregon

  • Craig M. Ellsworth
  • Torrey J. Tyler
  • Scott P. VanderKooi


A small irrigation diversion dam near Chiloquin, Oregon, was removed and replaced with a pump station to improve fish passage for Lost River suckers (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) entering the Sprague River on their spawning migrations. During the developmental phase of the pump station, a need was identified to better understand the larval drift characteristics of these endangered catostomids in order to reduce entrainment into the irrigation system. The spatial, seasonal, and diel distribution of drifting larvae was measured during the 2004 spawning season at two proposed sites on the Williamson River where the pump station could be located. Larval drift for both species coincided with the irrigation season making them subject to entrainment into the irrigation system. Drift occurred almost exclusively at night with larvae entering the drift at sunset and exiting the drift at sunrise. Nighttime larval densities were concentrated near the surface and at midchannel at both sites. Densities were generally greater on the side of mid-channel with greater flow. During early morning sampling we detected a general shift in larval drift from surface to subsurface drift. We also observed an increase in larval densities towards the shore opposite from the proposed pump station at the upper site whereas larval densities remained high at midchannel at the lower site. During daytime sampling, the few larvae that were collected were distributed throughout the water column at both pump sites. This study found that larvae drifting during all time periods were generally distributed further across the cross section, deeper in the water column, and closer to where the proposed water withdrawal structure would be built at the downstream site when compared to the upstream site. Recommendations were provided to locate the withdrawal facility at the upstream site and operate it in a manner such that larval entrainment would likely be minimized.


Larval drift Lakesucker Endangered species Migration Entrainment Dam removal 



We thank personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey Klamath Falls Field Station and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Basin Area Office for their assistance in collecting and processing field data and for reviewing and editing this manuscript. We also thank Oregon State University staff for processing laboratory data. We thank Rip Shively and David Hewitt of the U.S. Geological Survey for their help with study design and data analysis. This project was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the U.S. Department of Interior or the U.S. Geological Survey of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. Fish samples were obtained under the collection permit No. TE007907-5 issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and under the collection permit No. OR2004-1793 issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig M. Ellsworth
    • 1
  • Torrey J. Tyler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Scott P. VanderKooi
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, Western Fisheries Research CenterKlamath FallsUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Bureau of ReclamationKlamath FallsUSA

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