Great Basin Naturalist


The objectives of this study were to (1) examine distribution and habitat use of leatherside chub (Gila copei) in a creek with high densities of predatory brown trout (Salmo trutta), and (2) compare study results with published accounts of leatherside chub habitat use in streams with few or no brown trout. A 14-km section of Diamond Fork Creek, Utah, was point-shocked to determine macrohabitat (main channel and lateral habitat) and microhabitat (current, depth, substrate, and cover) use of leatherside chub. At the macrohabitat level, leatherside chub were most common in lower reaches of Diamond Fork Creek where the channel was braided and lateral habitats (cutoff pools and backwaters) were abundant. Only a single leatherside chub was found in the main channel of Diamond Fork. Investigations in other systems lacking brown trout indicated that leatherside chub occupy main channel habitats. At the microhabitat level, we found significant positive associations between presence of leatherside chub and both habitat depth and silt. In addition, we found a significant negative association between presence of leatherside chub and number of brown trout. Our results suggest predation by brown trout may limit leatherside chub to lateral habitats that could provide refugia against predation. The introduction of brown trout to systems with little lateral habitat could have serious effects on persistence of resident leatherside chub populations.