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Size-dependent survival of brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis in summer: effects of water temperature and stream flow

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A 5 year individual-based data set was used to estimate size-specific survival rates in a wild brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis population in a stream network encompassing a mainstem and three tributaries (1ยท5–6 m wetted width), western Massachusetts, U.S.A. The relationships between survival in summer and temperature and flow metrics derived from continuous monitoring data were then tested. Increased summer temperatures significantly reduced summer survival rates for S. fontinalis in almost all size classes in all four sites throughout the network. In contrast, extreme low summer flows reduced survival of large fish, but only in small tributaries, and had no significant effects on fish in smaller size classes in any location. These results provide direct evidence of a link between season-specific survival and environmental factors likely to be affected by climate change and have important consequences for the management of both habitats and populations.

Keywords: climate change; salmonids; size-dependent survival; stream discharge

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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