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Big Fish In a Small Pool: Habitat Preferences of Cutthroat Trout

This article is from Issue Olympic Winter Games - Vol. 2 No. 2.

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Cutthroat trout are a type of salmon. The scientists in this study wanted to find out if cutthroat trout behave like other salmonids.

Welcome to the Olympic Winter Games edition

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations


Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Fish and Aquatic Species (Educators)
  • Fish and Other Aquatic Species (Students)
  • Rivers, Lakes, Streams (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Water (Educators)
  • Wildlife and Endangered Species (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Rocky Mountain

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
For natural resource scientists to be fairly certain about something, they often do many similar research studies. If they get similar results in different settings or with different kinds of species, they are more confident about their results. The scientists in this study wanted to know where cutthroat trout would prefer to live in a stream, if more dominant trout were not present. They removed the largest cutthroat trout from a stream to see what would happen. They expected remaining trout to move into the same locations that larger, more dominant trout had occupied. This study was similar to other studies with other species of trout and other stream fish. In those studies, scientists found that when more dominant fish were removed from a river, other fish moved into their locations. In this way, the scientists thought they could identify the trout's favorite places. What do you think Dr. Young and his colleagues found out about cutthroat trout?
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • The Scientific Process
  • Uses and Benefits of Science

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
In the natural world, you might find that two different bird species would like to build their nest in the same place, perhaps a place that is safe from predators. You might also find that members of the same species would like to occupy the same place, such as one that provides a lot of their favorite kind of food. Since there is a limit to the number of individuals one place can support, usually the largest or most dominant individuals of a species get to live in the best places. By studying the preferred location of the dominant individuals, scientists can learn about the best habitats for certain species.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Species dominance

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Populations, resources and environments (F)
  • Regulation and behavior (C)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about science and technology (E)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Historic Perspectives: Explaining the Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Nature of Technology: Issues in Technology
  • The Nature of Technology: Technology and Science