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Title: Exploring the persistence of stream-dwelling trout populations under alternative real-world turbidity regimes with an individual-based model

Author: Harvey, Bret C.; Railsback, Steven F.;

Date: 2009

Source: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138: 348-360

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We explored the effects of elevated turbidity on stream-resident populations of coastal cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii using a spatially explicit individual-based model. Turbidity regimes were contrasted by means of 15-year simulations in a third-order stream in northwestern California. The alternative regimes were based on multiple-year, continuous monitoring in two streams. Turbidity affected model fish by reducing both their risk of predation and their reactive distance to drifting prey. It did not affect their ability to locate nondrifting food, such as invertebrates on the stream bottom. Under a calibration scenario that assumed trout predominantly consume drifting prey, the less-turbid real-world regime produced relatively stable abundance across years (similar to field observations) whereas the more-turbid regime (under otherwise identical physical conditions) resulted in extinction within the 15-year simulation period. Additional simulations revealed sensitivity to the relative amounts of prey available via drift versus search feeding and showed that seasonal variation in food availability or strong positive relationships between streamflow and food concentration would not prevent extinction in the high-turbidity regime under a drift-feeding-based food calibration. Extinction of predominantly drift-feeding trout populations in our simulations contrasts with field observations of salmonid populations that have persisted in moderately turbid regimes. The results highlight the need for better understanding of patterns in the availability of food under turbid conditions and the capability of stream salmonids to use nonvisual cues in feeding.

Keywords: stream, fish, salmonids, turbidity, population dynamics

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Harvey, Bret C.; Railsback, Steven F. 2009. Exploring the persistence of stream-dwelling trout populations under alternative real-world turbidity regimes with an individual-based model. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138: 348-360.


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