The scientists found that local variability in stream habitat, such as water depth and instream cover, play a greater role in reducing the effects of timber harvest and climate change on trout than previously realized. Instream cover and shade improve trout survival by providing a place to hide from predators.
This report evaluates the general effects of forestry practices on biodiversity along streams in the Pacific Northwest and northern California.
Aquatic ecologists working in small streams are challenged with the task of identifying stream habitats, the spatial distribution and temporal persistence (i.e., rate of change) of habitat, and the timing and manner in which habitats are used by stream fishes. Because temporal variation of stream habitats and the mobility of stream fishes complicate species abundance-habitat association models (Van Horne 1983), the identification of high quality aquatic habitats is often problematic. In an attempt to assess habitat quality of a stream network in western Oregon, we evaluated the persistence of abundance patterns and habitat associations of coastal cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii by monitoring stream sections of high and low relative abundance for 13 months. Simultaneous habitat evaluations provided insight into factors affecting distribution patterns in main stem and tributary streams.
The shape and configuration of branched networks influence ecological patterns and processes. Recent investigations of network influences in riverine ecology stress the need to quantify spatial structure not only in a two-dimensional plane, but also in networks. An initial step in understanding data from stream networks is discerning non-random patterns along the network. On the other hand, data collected in the network may be spatially autocorrelated and thus not suitable for traditional statistical analyses. Here we provide a method that uses commercially available software to construct an empirical variogram to describe spatial pattern in the relative abundance of coastal cutthroat trout in headwater stream networks. We describe the mathematical and practical considerations involved in calculating a variogram using a non-Euclidean distance metric to incorporate the network pathway structure in the analysis of spatial variability, and use a non-parametric technique to ascertain if the pattern in the empirical variogram is non-random.
The Salmon Research and Restoration Plan for the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative (AYK-SSI) recognizes the need for approaches to characterize determinants of salmon population performance at broader scales. Here we discuss data and modeling tools that have been applied in western Oregon to understand how landscape features and processes may influence salmonids in freshwater.
Little information is available on the effects of implanting 23-mm passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags in salmonids less than 90 mm fork length (FL). Using juvenile steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss (range, 73–97 mm FL), we compared instantaneous growth rates and survival among three experimental groups: control, surgery with no tag, and surgery with tag.
To investigate effects of headwater logging on downstream coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) populations, we monitored stream habitat and biotic indicators including biomass, abundance, growth, movement, and survival over 8 years using a paired-watershed approach.
The importance of multiple processes and instream factors to aquatic biota has been explored extensively, but questions remain about how local spatiotemporal variability of aquatic biota is tied to environmental regimes and the geophysical template of streams. We used an individual-based trout model to explore the relative role of the geophysical template versus environmental regimes on biomass of trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii). We parameterized the model with observed data from each of the four headwater streams (their local geophysical template and environmental regime) and then ran 12 simulations where we replaced environmental regimes (stream temperature, flow, turbidity) of a given stream with values from each neighboring stream while keeping the geophysical template fixed. We also performed single-parameter sensitivity analyses on the model results from each of the four streams. Although our modeled findings show that trout biomass is most responsive to changes in the geophysical template of streams, they also reveal that biomass is restricted by available habitat during seasonal low flow, which is a product of both the stream’s geophysical template and flow regime. Our modeled results suggest that differences in the geophysical template among streams render trout more or less sensitive to environmental change, emphasizing the importance of local fish–habitat relationships in streams.
Land use and climate change occur simultaneously around the globe. Fully understanding their separate and combined effects requires a mechanistic understanding at the local scale where their effects are ultimately realized. Here we applied an individual-based model of fish population dynamics to evaluate the role of local stream variability in modifying responses of Coastal Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) to scenarios simulating identical changes in temperature and stream flows linked to forest harvest, climate change, and their combined effects over six decades. We parameterized the model for four neighboring streams located in a forested headwater catchment in northwestern Oregon, USA with multi-year, daily measurements of stream temperature, flow, and turbidity (2007– 2011), and field measurements of both instream habitat structure and three years of annual trout population estimates. Model simulations revealed that variability in habitat conditions
among streams (depth, available habitat) mediated the effects of forest harvest and climate change. Net effects for most simulated trout responses were different from or less than the sum of their separate scenarios. In some cases, forest harvest countered the effects of climate change through increased summer flow. Climate change most strongly influenced trout (earlier fry emergence, reductions in biomass of older trout, increased biomass of young-of-year), but these changes did not consistently translate into reductions in biomass over time. Forest harvest, in contrast, produced fewer and less consistent responses in trout. Earlier fry emergence driven by climate change was the most consistent simulated response, whereas survival, growth, and biomass were inconsistent. Overall our findings indicate a host of local processes can strongly influence how populations respond to broad scale effects of land use and climate change.
Piscivory by birds can be significant, particularly on fish in small streams and during seasonal low flow when available cover from predators can be limited. Yet, how varying amounts of cover may change the extent of predation mortality from avian predators on fish is not clear. We evaluated size-selective survival of coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) in replicated semi-natural stream sections. These sections provided high (0.01 m2 of cover per m2 of stream) or low (0.002 m2 of cover per m2 of stream) levels of instream cover available to trout and were closed to emigration. Each fish was individually tagged, allowing us to track retention of individuals during the course of the 36-day experiment, which we attributed to survival from predators, because fish had no other way to leave the streams. Although other avian predators may have been active in our system and not detected, the only predator observed was the belted kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon, which is known to prey heavily on fish. In both treatments, trout >20.4 cm were not preyed upon indicating an increased ability to prey upon on smaller individuals. Increased availability of cover improved survival of trout by 12% in high relative to low cover
stream sections. Trout also survived better in stream sections with greater shade, a factor we could not control in our system. Collectively, these findings indicate that instream cover and shade from avian predators can play an important role in driving survival of fish in small streams or during periods of low flow.