Feb 17

New “Yellowstone Science” Highlights Native Trout Conservation

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – The latest issue of Yellowstone Science focuses on the efforts to restore native fish to Yellowstone National Park waterways. The articles provide opportunities to anyone who wants to learn more about the critical role native fish play in this dynamic ecosystem.

Yellowstone’s senior fisheries biologist, Todd Koel writes, “Our goal is as bold as it is difficult: restore the ecological role of Yellowstone’s native fish species.” Through innovative management and careful science, Yellowstone Science explains the park’s fisheries conservation story, including progress made and continuing challenges.

Modern fisheries management places an emphasis on restoring native fish populations including Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, and Arctic Grayling. Through construction of fish barriers, the use of fish toxins to remove non-natives, and reintroduction of native fish, this issue examines the successes of the native fisheries program and the questions that still linger. Are there alternative methods that might be more effective for lake trout removal than gillnetting? How can the spread of additional aquatic invasive species such as the zebra mussel be prevented?

Several articles focus on restoration of cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake, in particular, eradication of non-native lake trout that were found in Yellowstone Lake in 1994. In the article, “Suppressing Non-native Lake Trout to Restore Native Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Lake,” fisheries biologists Pat Bigelow, Phil Doepke, Brian Ertel, Chris Guy, John Syslo, and Todd Koel discuss the history of a project that has removed more than 3.2 million lake trout from Yellowstone Lake (1994-2016) through gillnetting and angler catch.

Lake trout pose a significant threat to native fish populations as they not only consume cutthroat trout, but live long lives in areas of the lake that make them largely unavailable to species that once depended on cutthroat as a food source. “Non-native Lake Trout Induce Cascading Changes in the Yellowstone Lake Ecosystem” by Todd Koel, Jeff Arnold, Lisa Baril, Kerry Gunther, Doug Smith, John Syslo, and Lusha Tonstad discusses the effect one species, lake trout, has had on Yellowstone Lake, the heart of the region’s ecosystem.

The publication is produced by Yellowstone National Park with support from Yellowstone Forever and a grant from Canon’s Eyes on Yellowstone program. This program is designed to bring together conservation, endangered species protection, and cutting-edge science and technology to help manage Yellowstone’s ecosystem. Eyes on Yellowstone is the largest corporate donation for wildlife conservation in the park.

The issue is currently being mailed to subscribers and is available online at Yellowstone Science. Subscription information is also available at Yellowstone Science. Due to the cost of printing, we encourage users to consider a digital subscription.

To read more about Yellowstone fish and fisheries management, see: Fishing and Fisheries Science.


Grants made by Yellowstone Forever continue to provide significant resources to Yellowstone National Park and their Native Fish Conservation Program. Learn more about how you can support this program today.