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Bonneville cutthroat trout
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Salmoniformes
Family: Salmonidae
Genus: Oncorhynchus
Species: O. clarki
Subspecies: O. c. utah
Trinomial name
Oncorhynchus clarki utah
(Suckley, 1874)

The Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native to tributaries of the Great Salt Lake, U.S.A. Most of the fish's current and historic range is in Utah, but they are also found in Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada. This species is one of 14 recognized subspecies of cutthroat trout native to the western United States.

Contents

Natural history

Bonneville cutthroats are descended from cutthroat trout that once inhabited the Late Pleistocene-aged Lake Bonneville of Utah, eastern Nevada, and southern Idaho. Since the desiccation of Lake Bonneville into the Great Salt Lake, which is too salty for any kind of fish life, Bonneville cutthroats have been isolated in smaller populations in the headwaters of mountain streams and in lakes of the Bonneville drainage basin. The isolation has resulted in much phenotypic variation among populations.

Bonneville cutthroat trout primarily eat other fish, while smaller individuals and to a lesser extent adults consume a lot of insects and various benthic organisms. They spawn near the mouths of streams over gravel substrate in the springtime, having an incubation period of 24 to 25 days.

Description

A Bonneville cutthroat trout

This fish has sparsely scattered, very distinct round spots over its upper body. They are clothed in subdued colors of silver-gray to charcoal, the upper body having subtle hues of pink on the flanks during spawning. These fish, particularly the Bear Lake strain, often lack the bright crimson jaw slash that, at times, may be yellow.

Cutthroat and rainbow trout differ in that cutthroats have basibranchial (hyoid) teeth in their throat between the gill arches and behind the tongue.[1] They also typically have longer heads and jaws than the rainbow and often can be distinguished from the rainbow by their larger spots.

Conservation

A cutthroat trout caught on the Weber River, Utah

The Bonneville cutthroat is known to be more vulnerable to anglers because of a general lack of wariness and can be caught on a wide variety of bait. As the only native salmonid of the inland west, cutthroat trout suffered intense fishing pressure for commerce and sustenance from the 1850s through the 1920s. At one time they were so numerous they were considered a nuisance, but today they are on the Utah Sensitive Species List. They are threatened by predation and competition by non-native fish, hybridization with non-native fish (in particular the rainbow trout, resulting in cutbows), and loss of habitat.

The Bonneville cutthroat has recently been designated the official state fish of Utah. It was important to the Indians and the Mormon pioneers as a source of food.

Notes

  1. ^ Project WILD: Going native. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

References

See also

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