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Role of climate and invasive species in structuring trout distributions in the interior Columbia River Basin, USA

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Recent and projected climate warming trends have prompted interest in impacts on coldwater fishes. We examined the role of climate (temperature and flow regime) relative to geomorphology and land use in determining the observed distributions of three trout species in the interior Columbia River Basin, USA. We considered two native species, cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), as well as nonnative brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). We also examined the response of the native species to the presence of brook trout. Analyses were conducted using multilevel logistic regression applied to a geographically broad database of 4165 fish surveys. The results indicated that bull trout distributions were strongly related to climatic factors, and more weakly related to the presence of brook trout and geomorphic variables. Cutthroat trout distributions were weakly related to climate but strongly related to the presence of brook trout. Brook trout distributions were related to both climate and geomorphic variables, including proximity to unconfined valley bottoms. We conclude that brook trout and bull trout are likely to be adversely affected by climate warming, whereas cutthroat trout may be less sensitive. The results illustrate the importance of considering species interactions and flow regime alongside temperature in understanding climate effects on fish.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, 322 East Front Street, Suite 401, Boise, ID 83702, USA. 2: US Geological Survey Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 3: Colorado State University, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1474, USA. 4: Trout Unlimited, 910 Main Street, Suite 342, Boise, ID 83702, USA. 5: US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, P.O. Box 1541, Seeley Lake, MT 59868, USA. 6: US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, 800 East Beckwith Avenue, Missoula, MT 59801, USA.

Publication date: June 4, 2011

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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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