Decline in native fish in California's Lake Tahoe since 1950s

Sacramento BeeMarch 23, 2011 

A new study says that there has been a considerable decline in native fish in Lake Tahoe since 1951.

"The numbers are alarming, and likely caused by multiple stressors in the nearshore zone," said lead scientist Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada, Reno.

According to a university press release, the study found that 58 percent of the 26 locations historically studied on the lake showed a decline of species or no native species at all.

Coldwater sport fish such as Mackinaw, rainbow, brown and brook trout have been introduced to Lake Tahoe. Kokanee salmon that make their fall run up Taylor Creek at the south end of the alpine lake were introduced in the 1940s. Mackinaw trout, imported from Michigan in 1894, contributed to the extinction of the lake's native Lahontan cutthroat trout in 1939.

The study focused on non-native warmwater fish such as bluegill and largemouth bass. By the end of the last century, both fish were common in the Tahoe Keys, while native Lahontan redside shiner and speckled dace populations were scarce or almost eliminated from the Tahoe Keys, an important native fish rearing ground.

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