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Bioenergetic assessment of habitat quality for stream-dwelling cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) with implications for climate change and nutrient supplementation

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We used a bioenergetic model to determine if cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) abundance was related to net energy intake rates (NEI) and the proportion of suitable habitat and to evaluate potential changes in habitat quality due to climate change and stream fertilization efforts. We conducted monthly sampling of cutthroat trout, invertebrate drift, and physical habitat features in pool and riffle habitats. Fish in this study selected foraging positions that enabled them to maximize NEI, and most fish were capable of sustaining high growth rates from July to September. Mean NEI and the proportion of suitable habitat at sites were greater in pools relative to riffle habitats and declined from July to October, primarily due to a decline in temperature over the four months. Cutthroat trout biomass was significantly related to NEI and the proportion of suitable habitat at a site. Model simulations indicated that climate change might reduce habitat quality for small-bodied trout, while extending the growing season for larger fish. Increased food abundance provided only marginal changes to model outcomes, whereas reductions in food significantly reduced habitat quality.

Un modèle bioénergétique nous sert à déterminer si l’abondance des truites fardées (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) est reliée aux taux d’apport net d’énergie (NEI) et à la proportion d’habitat adéquat, ainsi qu’à évaluer les changements potentiels de qualité de l’habitat dus au changement climatique et aux efforts de fertilisation des cours d’eau. Nous avons fait un échantillonnage mensuel des truites fardées, de la dérive des invertébrés et des caractéristiques physiques de l’habitat dans les habitats de fosses et de rapides. Dans notre étude, les poissons choisissent des points de recherche de nourriture qui leur permettent de maximiser leur NEI et la plupart des poissons réussissent à maintenir un taux élevé de croissance de juillet à septembre. Le NEI moyen et la proportion d’habitat adéquat dans les sites sont plus élevés dans les habitats de fosses que dans les rapides et diminuent de juillet à octobre, principalement à cause du déclin de la température au cours de ces quatre mois. Il y a une relation significative entre la biomasse des truites fardées et le NEI et la proportion d’habitat adéquat dans le site. Des simulations du modèle indiquent que le changement climatique risque de réduire la qualité de l’habitat pour les truites de petite taille, tout en allongeant la saison de croissance des poissons plus grands. Une augmentation de l’abondance de nourriture n’apporte que des changements mineurs aux résultats du modèle, alors que des réductions de nourriture diminuent significativement la qualité de l’habitat.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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