Catostomus occidentalis lacusanserinus

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General Information
Common Name: 
Goose Lake sucker

Conservation Status in California: Class 2, Vulnerable (Moyle et al. 2011).
Multiple factors threaten their persistence, including their limited distribution in the Goose Lake basin, especially in California.

Life History: 

Life History: Little is known about the life history of the Goose Lake sucker, except that they spawn during spring in the streams that are tributary to Goose Lake (Martin 1967). Adults can be found in the streams and lake throughout the year. Young suckers 40-70 mm SL are very abundant in shallow water during summer in the lake, "packed" in among aquatic macrophytes (R. White, unpubl. data). Fish become sexually mature by the second year when they are 80-90 mm SL. Martin (1967) found several fish (141-216 mm SL), both male and female, with mature gonads at the beginning of April and concluded that Goose Lake suckers breed during April or May, depending on water temperature. J. Williams (BLM, unpubl. observ.) observed 246-430 mm FL fish on a spawning migration in Willow Creek during May 14-16, 1984. Surveys in 2007 (Heck et al. 2008) found that length frequencies of Goose Lake suckers in Oregon streams represented individuals from young of year to adults, although individual age classes were not established. Goose Lake suckers positively identified by the surveys ranged in size from ~50 mm to 200 mm. Smaller (~20 mm) suckers were captured but were not separated from a group that included Modoc suckers (Catostomus microps). In Oregon streams, Goose Lake suckers appear to be closely associated with speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) and Northern roach (Lavinia mitrulus). Goose Lake suckers feed primarily on algae and diatoms (Martin 1967). Like other suckers, they have a long intestine and ventral mouth adaptive to this diet.

Dispersal Capability: Only capable of natural colonization via hydrologic stream connection.

Habitat Requirements: 

Habitat Requirements: Little information is available on this subspecies. In streams, Goose Lake suckers are typically found in water depths of 15-150 cm and in moderate to slow water velocities (Martin 1967). The streams which they inhabit are up to 4.5 m wide, with summer water temperatures of 15-19°C. Little vegetation is present in the streams. Substrates consist primarily of rock and gravel in headwater sections and mud, silt, and gravel in lower sections. Goose Lake, the principal habitat of the fish, is shallow, muddy, and alkaline (see Goose Lake tui chub account). Gillnetting and trawling indicate that the sucker is found throughout the lake (R. White, unpubl. data). Populations of Goose Lake suckers are apparently also present in small reservoirs in the Cottonwood and Thomas creek drainages, Oregon, but the characteristics of these reservoirs are not known. Juvenile fish have been observed in shallow water among emergent vegetation.


Distribution: The Goose Lake sucker is endemic to the Goose Lake basin and has been reported from Goose Lake and Willow, Lassen, Davis, Branch, and Badger-Cloud Corral creeks, Modoc National Forest, California; and from Dog, Hay, Dent, Drews, Cottonwood, Augur, Cox, Warner and Thomas creeks, Lake County, Oregon (GLFWG 1996, Heck et al. 2008). It is also known from Drews, Dog and Cottonwood reservoirs in Oregon, but it is not certain if permanent populations are established in these reservoirs. Apparent spawning runs from them, however, have been recorded (J. Williams, unpubl. obs.)

Abundance Trends: 

Trends in Abundance: As far as is known, the subspecies is fairly common in its limited range. It was collected in brief surveys of the lake by CDFG (King and Hansen 1966), by USFWS (J. Williams, 1984, unpubl. data), and by University of California, Davis (R. White, 1989, unpubl. data). However, their abundance presumably declined when Goose Lake dried up in 1992-1993, recovering once the lake rose again. Although only one Goose Lake sucker (320 mm) was caught by the authors from the Lake on June 2008 (Moyle et al. unpubl. data), juvenile and adult Goose Lake suckers are widespread in Oregon streams (Heck et al. 2008).


Description: The Goose Lake sucker is a catostomid that can reach 350 mm SL. As a subspecies, it shares many characteristics with the Sacramento sucker (Ward and Fritzche 1987), including the number of lateral line scales (64-73), scales above (12-16) and below (8-12) the lateral line, and scale rows before the dorsal fin (27-36). They also have similar numbers of fin rays (11-13 dorsal rays, 7 anal rays, 16-18 pectoral rays, 9-10 pelvic rays), lip papillae (5-6 upper-lip papillae, 5 lower-lip papillae), and gill rakers (21-27). The number of post-Weberian vertebrae in Goose Lake suckers ranges from 42 to 44. They are characterized by a caudal peduncle that is 8-10 percent of the standard length, the lack of pelvic axillary processes and a black peritoneum. Body coloration is dark grey to black dorsally and light grey to dull brown ventrally. The head is steel-grey to brown dorsally, but is lighter ventrally. A darker lateral stripe is present in larger fish. The caudal, pelvic, and pectoral fins are light grey to cream. Males develop breeding tubercles on branched and unbranched anal rays and on lower caudal rays. Females have no tubercles (Martin 1967). In reproductive males, the pelvic fins become extremely enlarged, elongated, and cupped, presumably to aid in dispersal of sperm during reproduction (Martin 1967).