Brief Email Notes Prior to Sampling ***** Creek

Brief email exchange prior to ***** Creek sampling project; phenotype photos are visible in the previous post.

—–Original Message—–
From: David & Carmela Kortum

Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 11:52 PM
To: ‘Shannon Hurn’
Subject: FW: Alvord Phenotype SE Oregon
Importance: High

Hello Shannon,

Just a brief note to touch-base and thank you for the organizational effort & all in preparation for the outing at ***** Creek . . .  No doubt your schedule has been “pedal to the metal” this summer.  Perhaps ***** Creek will seem “easy” by comparison!

Embedded below are a few pictures from a ***** Creek expedition earlier this month.  Carmela caught this one, which almost certainly is the best example of an Alvord phenotype that we’ve seen this year.   Brief comments from Joe Tomelleri are below as well.

Please feel free to share these photos and/or the brief attached video with team members if it will be helpful.

It is encouraging that there are still phenotypes present.  . . . It seems I recall an article stating that trout will selectively breed (generally the female does the selecting, before dropping her eggs) with trout that carry the characteristics (phenotype) that they “prefer.”  The theory was that she was “looking” for trout (characteristics — to pass on) that would best survive in the extant environment . . .  Though; it seems to me, that the differing trout phenotypes also have slightly differing behavioral patterns.  Perhaps this has enabled the “Alvords” to find and “hang out” with other Alvords.  I hope so.  Though they’re rare, it seems a bit of a miracle that they even still exist.

Also attached is an “xps” file of satellite images of the Pueblos, from north to south, showing Little Willow Creek, Willow Creek, Little Cottonwood Creek, Van Horn Creek and Denio Creek.  RegardingVan Horn Creek, a recent Oregon Native Fish Status Report states that: “Nine naturalized populations (of Willow/Whitehorse Cutts that) exist in Pike, Little Alvord, Big Alvord, Cottonwood, Willow Mosquito, and Little McCoy creeks in the Alvord Lake Basin, and Denio and VanHorn Creeks in the Pueblo Valley basin. These populations were established through translocations from Willow and Whitehorse creeks between 1970 and 1981 for conservation purposes. A naturalized population in ***** Creek in the Catlow Valley basin was established in 1957 with Lahontan cutthroat trout collected from Willow Creek in 1955 and reared at Wallowa Hatchery. Lahontan cutthroat trout stocks from California were also stocked in ***** Creek (T, Walters, ODFW Malheur Watershed District Office, personal communication). These naturalized populations are not evaluated in this review.”  (ODFW—Oregon Native Fish Status Report – Volume II, Coyote Lake Lahontan Cutthroat Trout).

Joe Tomelleri has mentioned to me that he and Phil Howell shocked Van Horn (many years ago) and found “brown trout and one big potential hybrid—that looked like a redband/cutt.”  I don’t know if any of these systems have natural barriers . . . but it would seem to be a lot of work to make a system—with trout already extant in it—suitable to be a refuge for Oncorhynchus clarki alvordensis.  It would seem ideal (if possible) to find fishless, but suitable, streams for translocation.  If time allows, after the time at ***** Creek, we may foray into some of the canyons in the Willow Creeks and Little Cottonwood Creek—to explore and investigate a little further.  And, we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject.  No doubt, you may have some information we have no easy access to . . .

Also, I wonder if Helen Neville or Mary Peacock are aware of the statements by Bob Smith and Dr. Behnke of the specimens genetically tested at the University of California, Davis in 1985; they noted: “a unique allele found only in Alvord trout” (Robert H Smith, Native Trout of North America, pg 48) and “a completely distinct form of enzyme was found in the Virgin Creek specimen, never before seen in any species or subspecies of trout” (Robert Behnke, About Trout page 54). . . . We totally agree with Dr. Behnke that it could cause unnecessary delays to attempt to establish a genetic baseline or validation process at this time, but it might be a “lead” for a geneticist to follow-up on (to see if UC Davis might have samples and records of the alleles identified in 1985, for future use). Of course, we’ve come a long way since then.  Mt DNA or something new may hold a key for future identification.

Anyway, sorry to ramble so long for a “brief note.” . . . We’re looking forward to the time at ***** Creek, and are hoping that the sampling is successful and productive.

Thank you again for all of you efforts, and for the opportunity to participate in this meaningful project.


David and Carmela Kortum

—–Original Message—–
From: Joe Tomelleri
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 8:02 PM
To: David & Carmela Kortum; ‘Casey Dillman’; ‘Richard Mayden’
Cc: ‘Patrick Trotter’
Subject: Re: Alvord Phenotype SE Oregon

Well, it sure doesn’t show any rainbow genes, and if it had other cutt genes, what could they possibly be?   Nice photos…will be in Colorado though.   Bummer.

Best regards,

Joe T.

Joseph R. Tomelleri - Ichthyologic Scientific Renderings

—– Original Message —–

From: David & Carmela Kortum

To:Joe’ ; ‘Casey Dillman’ ; ‘Richard Mayden’

Cc: ‘Patrick Trotter’

Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 2:19 AM

Subject: Alvord Phenotype SE Oregon

Hello Joe,

Just a note to touch base regarding the Alvord phenotypes in ***** Creek, and the prospect for a translocation project . . .  The initial visit to the system is slated for July 26-28 (Shannon Hurn—ODFW as well as Helen Neville (Research Scientist from Trout Unlimited), a few OSU Grad Students (from the native trout division affiliated with ODFW), and Jim Leal of the BLM (specialist in fisheries/hydrology/ riparian work) are tentatively scheduled to be there (as well as others).

Of course, Patrick, Rena, Carmela and I are looking forward to being there.   It will be terrific if/when it works out so that you can make a visit to this neck of the “woods” again.  (Not many woods, and not much shade—but still a striking part of theGreat Basin, with [hopefully] a unique chapter in the history of cutthroat trout yet to be written.) Perhaps when a full-fledged project is underway you can make it.

Carmela and I spent some time at the ***** Ranch earlier this year, as well as looking into the sections below the marsh, and below the refuge.  (We also checked out some perennial upper tributaries this spring.)  In a nutshell, it seems the fish are primarily constrained to the seven miles above the marsh.  There are exceptions to this rule (****** Reservoir has held trout, and in great overflow years even *****Lakehas held trout).

We know that it is potentially disheartening (perhaps challenging) in that the system seems to be such a “soup”.  Yet it seems difficult to draw any other conclusion than that some of these trout are descendents of Alvords moved here long ago.  Though other cutts bear some similarity to Alvords — some of these ***** phenotypes do have unique tell-tale characteris­tics that would lead one to draw the very same conclusion that Behnke came to in 2006.

Attached are a few photos and a brief video of one of the phenotypes Carmela caught this year.  He was a bit beat up from spawning, but hopefully he’s left some offspring for the future — and hopefully there will be a future for the Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype in Oregon . . .                 Oncorhynchus clarki alvordensis phenotype

We’ll keep in touch as things progress, and – we should be able to put together more photos for your perusal (we’re still getting the hang of the photoarium, but making progress).


David and Carmela Kortum

About kortumofdiscovery

Kortum of Discovery (a slight play on Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery) is a family team that is Affirming the Exceptional Beauty of Nature, one Adventure at a Time. With a focus toward rare and endangered species in the Great Basin and American west: discoveries, unique methodologies, and many “tall tales to tell” are continually being shared around the campfire!
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