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Title: Diel habitat partitioning by bull charr and cutthroat trout during fall and winter in Rocky Mountain streams

Author: Jakober, Michael J.; McMahon, Thomas E.; Thurow, Russell F.;

Date: 2000

Source: Environmental Biology of Fishes. 59: 79-89.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We used underwater observation to determine diel habitat partitioning between bull charr, Salvelinus confluentus, and cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki, during fall and winter (0.1-8.3°C) in two Rocky Mountain streams that differed in habitat availability. The majority (>70%) of both species emerged from concealment cover at night, though bull charr exhibited a greater tendency for nocturnal behavior than cutthroat trout. Differences in day and night counts were most pronounced at temperatures <3°C, when very few fish of either species were observed in the water column during the day, but both species were common at night. Both species used concealment cover of large woody debris and boulder substrate crevices in deep pools during the day. At night, fish emerged from cover and habitat use shifted to shallow water with low cover. Microhabitat partitioning among species and size classes occurred at night, cutthroat trout moving into shallower, faster water that was farther from cover compared to bull charr. Smaller fish of both species occupied focal positions in slower, shallower water closer to the substrate than larger fish. Large, mixed-species aggregations also were common in beaver ponds both day and night. High variation in diel and site-specific winter habitat use suggests the need for caution in developing habitat suitability criteria for salmonids based solely on daytime observations or on observations from a few sites. Our results support the need to incorporate nocturnal habitat use and partitioning in studies of salmonid ecology.

Keywords: Salvelinus confluentus, Oncorhynchus clarki, salmonids, diel behavior, habitat use, winter ecology

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Jakober, Michael J.; McMahon, Thomas E.; Thurow, Russell F. 2000. Diel habitat partitioning by bull charr and cutthroat trout during fall and winter in Rocky Mountain streams. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 59: 79-89.


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