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Effects of flow fluctuations on habitat use and survival of age-0 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in a large, regulated river

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We evaluated effects of reduced hourly variation in flow from Glen Canyon Dam on survival of age-0 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Colorado River, Arizona, USA, based on monthly abundance estimates. The proportion of the age-0 population in low-angle shorelines, which are potentially more sensitive to flow variability, declined from 70% in June to 20% in November as fish grew and made an ontogenetic habitat shift to deeper habitat. Average daily instantaneous mortality between August and September was 0.008 units lower in years when there was no change in the minimum flow compared with years when there was a sudden 50% reduction in the minimum flow. However, mortality was 0.006 units higher during the fall when there was no hourly variation in flow compared with years when flows fluctuated. As a result of these opposing patterns, 3-month age-0 survival across steady (0.31) and unsteady (0.28) flow regimes were very similar. While additional replication is required to strengthen inferences about effects of steadier flows, we demonstrate the utility of early life history monitoring for evaluating effects of flow management on fish populations in regulated rivers.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Fisheries Centre, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory, 2202 Main Mall, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 2: Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-0430, USA.

Publication date: June 1, 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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