Bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus) and flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis) populations are declining throughout these species' native ranges in the Upper Colorado River Basin. In order to conserve these populations, an understanding of population dynamics is needed. Using age estimates from pectoral fin rays, we describe age and growth of these 2 species in 3 Wyoming stream systems: Muddy Creek, the Little Sandy River, and the Big Sandy River. Within all 3 stream systems, flannelmouth suckers were longer-lived than bluehead suckers, with maximum estimated ages of 16 years in Muddy Creek, 18 years in Little Sandy Creek, and 26 years in the Big Sandy River. Bluehead suckers had maximum estimated ages of 8 years in Muddy Creek, 10 years in Little Sandy Creek, and 18 years in the Big Sandy River. These maximum estimated ages were substantially greater than in other systems where scales have been used to estimate ages. Mean lengths at estimated ages were greater for flannelmouth suckers than for bluehead suckers in all 3 streams and generally less than values published from other systems where scales were used to estimate ages. Our observations of long life spans and slow growth rates among bluehead suckers and flannelmouth suckers were probably associated with our use of fin rays to estimate ages as well as the populations being in headwater tributaries near the northern edges of these species' ranges.
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Vol. 69 • No. 1