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Estimation of stream conditions in tributaries of the Klamath River, northern California

June 1, 2018

Because of their critical ecological role, stream temperature and discharge are requisite inputs for models of salmonid population dynamics. Coho Salmon inhabiting the Klamath Basin spend much of their freshwater life cycle inhabiting tributaries, but environmental data are often absent or only seasonally available at these locations. To address this information gap, we constructed daily averaged water temperature models that used simulated meteorological data to estimate daily tributary temperatures, and we used flow differentials recorded on the mainstem Klamath River to estimate daily tributary discharge.

Observed temperature data were available for fourteen of the major salmon bearing tributaries, which enabled estimation of tributary-specific model parameters at those locations. Water temperature data from six mid-Klamath Basin tributaries were used to estimate a global set of parameters for predicting water temperatures in the remaining tributaries. The resulting parameter sets were used to simulate water temperatures for each of 75 tributaries from 1980-2015. Goodness-of-fit statistics computed from a cross-validation analysis demonstrated a high precision of the tributary-specific models in predicting temperature in unobserved years and of the global model in predicting temperatures in unobserved streams.

Klamath River discharge has been monitored by four gages that broadly intersperse the 292 kilometers from the Iron Gate Dam to the Klamath River mouth. These gages defined the upstream and downstream margins of three reaches. Daily discharge of tributaries within a reach was estimated from 1980-2015 based on drainage-area proportionate allocations of the discharge differential between the upstream and downstream margin. Comparisons with measured discharge on Indian Creek, a moderate-sized tributary with naturally regulated flows, revealed that the estimates effectively approximated both the variability and magnitude of discharge.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Estimation of stream conditions in tributaries of the Klamath River, northern California
Authors Christopher V. Manhard, Nicholas A. Som, Edward C. Jones, Russell W. Perry
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Arcata Fisheries Technical Report
Series Number TR 2018-32
Index ID 70197446
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center