Great Basin Naturalist


The observed distribution and relative abundance of two morphologically similar species of sucker, Catostomus, have shifted dramatically over the past four decades in Sagehen Creek and nearby streams in eastern California. The mountain sucker, C. platyrhynchus, formerly abundant and more numerous than the Tahoe sucker, C. tahoensis, has become relatively rare and during this study was consistently less abundant than the Tahoe sucker at all eastern California sites in 1983. Similar shifts in abundance were not seen at the three Nevada sites. Behavioral observations and data on spatial and temporal patterns of habitat use, collected in Sagehen Creek between May and September 1982 and 1983 using a snorkel survey method, indicate nearly complete overlap between mountain and Tahoe sucker habitat use and an absence of any agonistic behavioral interaction between species. The decline of the mountain sucker in these areas is likely the result of an interaction of loss of habitat due to reservoir construction and destructive management practices. These changes may have led to the elimination of isolating mechanisms between the two species and may be increasing the opportunity for introgressive hybridization.