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Unravelling the effects of water temperature and density dependence on the spatial variation of brown trout (Salmo trutta) body size

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This study looks at the relative influence of water temperature and density dependence on the spatial variation in body size of 126 brown trout (Salmo trutta) cohorts from 12 Iberian rivers over a 12-year period. Mean cohort mass and length of age groups 0+ to 2+ varied significantly among sampling sites because of the concurrent effect of water temperature and density dependence. Density in suitable habitat had a limiting role that influenced potential maximum growth of cohorts, and water temperature differentiated these cohorts in two groups of sites with high and low potential maximum growth. Water temperature had a positive cumulative effect on body size of all age classes. However, body size of age-0 trout was nonlinearly influenced by short-term exposure to extreme water temperature. Thus, extremely high temperatures became a limiting factor and had deleterious effects on growth. There were intracohort and intercohort effects of density dependence throughout the life span, which were mainly due to the density in the available suitable habitat of trout of the same age or older. The present study supports the hypothesis that both density-dependent and density-independent processes are crucial for the understanding of population dynamics and that their relative importance varies across scales of space and time.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid, E-28040 Madrid, Spain. 2: Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, E-45071 Toledo, Spain.

Publication date: May 5, 2012

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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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