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Impacts of climatic variation on trout: A global synthesis and path forward

December 10, 2015

Despite increasing concern that climate change may negatively impact trout—a globally distributed group of fish with major economic, ecological, and cultural value—a synthetic assessment of empirical data quantifying relationships between climatic variation and trout ecology does not exist. We conducted a systematic review to describe how temporal variation in temperature and streamflow influences trout ecology in freshwater ecosystems. Few studies (n = 42) have quantified relationships between temperature or streamflow and trout demography, growth, or phenology, and nearly all estimates (96 %) were for Salvelinus fontinalis and Salmo trutta. Only seven studies used temporal data to quantify climate-driven changes in trout ecology. Results from these studies were beset with limitations that prohibited quantitatively rigorous meta-analysis, a concerning inadequacy given major investment in trout conservation and management worldwide. Nevertheless, consistent patterns emerged from our synthesis, particularly a positive effect of summer streamflow on trout demography and growth; 64 % of estimates were positive and significant across studies, age classes, species, and locations, highlighting that climate-induced changes in hydrology may have numerous consequences for trout. To a lesser degree, summer and fall temperatures were negatively related to population demography (51 and 53 % of estimates, respectively), but temperature was rarely related to growth. To address limitations and uncertainties, we recommend: (1) systematically improving data collection, description, and sharing; (2) appropriately integrating climate impacts with other intrinsic and extrinsic drivers over the entire lifecycle; (3) describing indirect consequences of climate change; and (4) acknowledging and describing intrinsic resiliency.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Impacts of climatic variation on trout: A global synthesis and path forward
DOI 10.1007/s11160-015-9414-x
Authors Ryan Kovach, Clint C. Muhlfeld, Robert K. Al-Chokhachy, Jason B. Dunham, Benjamin Letcher, Jeffrey L. Kershner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Series Number
Index ID 70170964
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center