Cutthroat trout

Cutthroat trout

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The cutthroat trout is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 in the salmon
Salmonidae
Salmonidae is a family of ray-finned fish, the only living family currently placed in the order Salmoniformes. It includes salmon, trout, chars, freshwater whitefishes and graylings...

 family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Salmoniformes. It is one of the many fish species colloquially known as trout
Trout
Trout is the name for a number of species of freshwater and saltwater fish belonging to the Salmoninae subfamily of the family Salmonidae. Salmon belong to the same family as trout. Most salmon species spend almost all their lives in salt water...

. All subspecies of cutthroat trout are sought after gamefish, especially among angler
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

s who enjoy fly fishing
Fly fishing
Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial 'fly' is used to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or 'lure' requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting...

.

Several native subspecies of cutthroat are currently listed as threatened
Threatened species
Threatened species are any speciesg animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future.The World Conservation Union is the foremost authority on threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories,...

, generally due to loss of habitat and introduction of non-native species.

Range and habitat


Cutthroat trout are native to western North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. The cutthroat species has evolved through geographic isolation into many subspecies, each native to a different major drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

. Native cutthroat species are found along the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 coast, in the Cascade Range
Cascade Range
The Cascade Range is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, and the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades...

, the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

, and throughout the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

. Some coastal populations are anadromous
Fish migration
Many types of fish migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, and over distances ranging from a few metres to thousands of kilometres...

, living primarily in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 as adults and returning to fresh water from fall through early spring to feed on insects and spawn. Most populations, however, stay in freshwater throughout their lives and are known as non-migratory, stream-resident or riverine populations. Anadromous fish may reach weights of 20 pounds (9 kg), but those fish which remain permanently in freshwater may only reach a weight of 2 pound (0.90718474 kg). At least three subspecies are confined to isolated basins in the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

 and can tolerate saline
Saline water
Saline water is a general term for water that contains a significant concentration of dissolved salts . The concentration is usually expressed in parts per million of salt....

 or alkaline
Alkalinity
Alkalinity or AT measures the ability of a solution to neutralize acids to the equivalence point of carbonate or bicarbonate. The alkalinity is equal to the stoichiometric sum of the bases in solution...

 water.

Description


Throughout their native and introduced range, cutthroat trout vary widely in size, coloration, and habitat selection. Though their coloration can range from golden to gray to green on the back, and depending on subspecies strain and habitat, they usually feature distinctive red, pink, or orange linear marks along the underside of the mandible
Mandible
The mandible pronunciation or inferior maxillary bone forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place...

 in the lower folds of the gill plates; the easiest diagnostic of the species for the casual observer. These markings are responsible for the formation of the typical name "cutthroat". At maturity, different populations and subspecies of cutthroat can range from 6–40 inches (15–100 cm) in length, depending on habitat and food availability, making size an ineffective indicator as to species identity. Cutthroat are typically prized as a sportfish, particularly by fly anglers, as their propensity to inhabit remote waters and dimunitive streams appeals to the sense of adventure present in many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, their tendency to exhibit significant activity and resistance to anglers in conjunction with this species' affinity for terrestrial or mature insects serves to increase popularity of the cutthroat as a angler's quarry. Finally, the cutthroat participates in a unique predator-prey relationship with the bull trout that is key to ecosystem integrity across much of its natural range.

Cutthroat will readily interbreed with the closely related rainbow trout
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

, producing fertile hybrids commonly called "cutbow
Cutbow
A Cutbow is a fertile hybrid between a rainbow trout and a cutthroat trout . While cutbow hybrids may occur naturally, most native populations of rainbows and cutthroats were separated by geography or habitat...

". As this species generally bears similar coloration and overall appearance to the cutthroat, retaining the characteristic orange-red slash, these hybrids often pose a taxonomical difficulty. In addition, Cutthroat will also hybridize with the O. gilae subspecies, the Gila trout
Gila trout
The gila trout is one of two subspecies of trout in O. gilae, the other being the Apache trout . Both are native to the Southwest United States. The gila trout is a species of salmonid, related to the rainbow and cutthroat trouts. The Gila trout has been considered endangered with extinction....

 and Apache trout
Apache trout
The Apache trout or Arizona trout, Oncorhynchus gilae apache, is a species of freshwater fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is one of the trouts.-Description:...

 in regions where their ranges overlap.

Subspecies


There are many subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of cutthroat, each native to a separate geographic area. The cutthroat trout is thought to have evolved over the past two million years from other Oncorhynchus
Oncorhynchus
Oncorhynchus is a genus of fish in the family Salmonidae; it contains the Pacific salmons and Pacific trouts. The name of the genus is derived from the Greek onkos and rynchos , in reference to the hooked jaws of males in the mating season .-Range:Salmon and trout with ranges generally in waters...

 species which migrated up the Columbia
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

 and Snake
Snake River
The Snake is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest in the United States. At long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean...

 river basins. There are at least 10, and perhaps more than 14 subspecies, including:

Pacific Coast

  • Coastal cutthroat trout
    Coastal cutthroat trout
    The coastal cutthroat trout also known as the sea run cutthroat, or harvest trout are a subspecies of cutthroat trout with an anadromous life history....

     O. c. clarki, also known as "sea-run" cutthroat; native from northern California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

     to Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

    .
    • Crescenti trout O. c. crescenti, no longer a recognized subspecies, but a unique population of coastal cutthroat endemic to Lake Crescent
      Lake Crescent
      Lake Crescent is a deep lake located entirely within Olympic National Park in Clallam County, Washington, United States, approximately west of Port Angeles, Washington on U.S. Route 101 and nearby to the small community of Piedmont...

      , Washington state.

Great Basin



  • Alvord cutthroat trout
    Alvord cutthroat trout
    The Alvord cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki alvordensis, was a subspecies of cutthroat trout. It was native to spring-fed creeks that ran down to Alvord Dry Lake in southeast Oregon, which was a large lake during the ice ages and an isolated drainage, part of the Great Basin today...

     O. c. alvordensis, endemic to tributaries of Alvord Lake
    Alvord Lake (Oregon)
    Alvord Lake is a seasonal shallow alkali lake in Harney County of the U.S. state of Oregon. Its elevation is . It is located about southeast of Alvord Desert in the Alvord Basin and serves as terminus for all its streams. Its water level varies from dry to several feet deep...

     in southeastern Oregon; considered extinct. Named in 2002.
  • Bonneville cutthroat trout
    Bonneville cutthroat trout
    The Bonneville cutthroat trout 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...

     O. c. utah, native to tributaries of the Great Salt Lake
    Great Salt Lake
    The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere, the fourth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of around , but the lake's size fluctuates substantially due to its...

    .
  • Humboldt cutthroat trout O. c. spp., found only in the upper Humboldt River
    Humboldt River
    The Humboldt River runs through northern Nevada in the western United States. At approximately long it is the second longest river in the Great Basin, after the Bear River. It has no outlet to the ocean, but instead empties into the Humboldt Sink...

     of northern Nevada
    Nevada
    Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

    . Considered by some to be a population of O. c. henshawi.
  • Lahontan cutthroat trout
    Lahontan cutthroat trout
    Lahontan cutthroat trout is the largest subspecies of cutthroat trout, and the state fish of Nevada.-Natural history:...

     O. c. henshawi, western Nevada, designated as threatened
    Threatened species
    Threatened species are any speciesg animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future.The World Conservation Union is the foremost authority on threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories,...

    .
    • Whitehorse Basin cutthroat trout, O. c. spp., once considered a separate subspecies, native to southeastern Oregon.
  • Paiute cutthroat trout
    Paiute cutthroat trout
    Paiute cutthroat trout is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native only to Silver King Creek, a headwater tributary of the Carson River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, U.S.A. The Carson River lies within the Great Basin interior drainage system, within the historic range of Lahontan...

     O. c. seleniris, endemic to eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, designated as threatened.

Northern Rockies



  • Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout
    Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout
    The Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout is a form of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout subspecies. Sub-species designation has been proposed with a trinomial classification of Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei, but the sub-species is not formally recognized...

    , named O. c. behnkei (1995 & 2002), but some consider it a population of O. c. bouvieri. Native to the Snake River
    Snake River
    The Snake is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest in the United States. At long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean...

     of Idaho
    Idaho
    Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

     and Wyoming
    Wyoming
    Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

    .
  • Westslope cutthroat trout
    Westslope cutthroat trout
    The westslope cutthroat trout , also known as the blackspotted cutthroat, is a subspecies of the cutthroat trout and is a freshwater fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. The cutthroat is the Montana state fish...

     O. c. lewisi, native to northern Idaho, Montana
    Montana
    Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

    , British Columbia
    British Columbia
    British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

    , and Alberta
    Alberta
    Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

    .
  • Yellowfin cutthroat trout
    Yellowfin cutthroat trout
    The yellowfin cutthroat trout , a subspecies of the cutthroat trout, was officially identified in 1891 and named after the US Fish Commissioner, MacDonald...

     O. c. macdonaldi, endemic to Twin Lakes
    Twin Lakes, Lake County, Colorado
    Twin Lakes is a census-designated place and a U.S. Post Office located in Lake County, Colorado, United States. The population as of the 2010 Census was 171...

    , Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

    ; now extinct.
  • Yellowstone cutthroat trout
    Yellowstone cutthroat trout
    The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a subspecies of the cutthroat trout and is a freshwater fish in the salmon family of the order Salmoniformes. Native only to a few U.S...

     O. c. bouvieri, native to the upper Snake River, Yellowstone Lake
    Yellowstone Lake
    Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park, The lake is 7,732 feet above sea level and covers with 110 miles of shoreline. While the average depth of the lake is 139 feet its deepest spot is at least 390 feet...

    , and Yellowstone River
    Yellowstone River
    The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

    , Idaho and Wyoming.

Southern Rockies



  • Colorado River cutthroat trout
    Colorado River cutthroat trout
    The Colorado River cutthroat trout is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native only to the Green and Colorado River basins, which are west of the Continental Divide...

     O. c. pleuriticus, native to tributaries of the Green
    Green River (Utah)
    The Green River, located in the western United States, is the chief tributary of the Colorado River. The watershed of the river, known as the Green River Basin, covers parts of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The Green River is long, beginning in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and flowing...

     and Colorado River
    Colorado River
    The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

    s.
  • Greenback cutthroat trout
    Greenback cutthroat trout
    The greenback cutthroat trout is the easternmost subspecies of cutthroat trout. This subspecies, once widespread, today occupies less than 1% of its historical range and is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It was adopted in 1994 as the state fish of...

     O. c. stomias, native to the Arkansas
    Arkansas River
    The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

     and South Platte River
    South Platte River
    The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River and itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West, located in the U.S. states of Colorado and Nebraska...

    s in eastern Colorado; designated as threatened.
  • Rio Grande cutthroat trout
    Rio Grande cutthroat trout
    The Rio Grande cutthroat trout , a member of the family Salmonidae is found in New Mexico and southern Colorado in tributaries of the Rio Grande...

     O. c. virginalis, native to New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

     and southern Colorado.

Trivia


The cutthroat trout is the state fish of Idaho and Wyoming, while particular subspecies of cutthroat are the state fish of Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

Origin of the name


The common name "cutthroat" refers to the distinctive red coloration on the underside of the lower jaw
Mandible
The mandible pronunciation or inferior maxillary bone forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place...

.

Cutthoat trout were given the species name clarki in honor of William Clark, who co-led the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition" was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William...

 of 1804–1806. One of Lewis and Clark’s missions was to describe the flora and fauna encountered during the expedition. The type specimen of O. clarki was described by naturalist John Richardson
John Richardson (naturalist)
Sir John Richardson was a Scottish naval surgeon, naturalist and arctic explorer.Richardson was born at Dumfries. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and became a surgeon in the navy in 1807. He traveled with John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage on the Coppermine Expedition of...

 from a tributary of the lower Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

, identified as the "Katpootl", which was perhaps the Lewis River
Lewis River (Washington)
The Lewis River is a tributary of the Columbia River, about long, in southwestern Washington in the United States. It drains part of the Cascade Range north of the Columbia River. The drainage basin of the Lewis River covers about . The river's mean annual discharge is about . Unlike nearby Lewis...

 as there was a Multnomah
Multnomah (tribe)
The Multnomah were a tribe of Chinookan people who lived in the area of Portland, Oregon, more specifically Sauvie Island, in the United States through the early 19th century. Multnomah villages were located throughout the Portland basin and on both sides of the Columbia River...

village of similar name at the confluence. This type specimen was most likely the coastal cutthroat subspecies.