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Stream size, temperature, and density explain body sizes of freshwater salmonids across a range of climate conditions

May 30, 2022

Climate change and anthropogenic activities are altering the body sizes of fishes, yet our understanding of factors influencing body size for many taxa remains incomplete. We evaluated the relationships between climate, environmental, and landscape attributes and the body size of different taxa of freshwater trout (Salmonidae) in the USA. Hierarchical spatial modeling across a gradient of habitats (5221 sites) illustrated the importance of watershed effects, which explained 17%–45% of the of the variation in body size across taxa. Stream size had a strong, positive relationship with body size, yet there was approximately tenfold difference in the strength of the relationship across taxa. Trout body size consistently declined with increasing density across taxa. Despite reliance on cold water, we found positive relationships between summer stream temperature and trout body size across most taxa. Our results highlight how providing trout access to larger, productive rivers for the expression of growth and life-history variation would promote body size diversity within and across populations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Stream size, temperature, and density explain body sizes of freshwater salmonids across a range of climate conditions
DOI 10.1139/cjfas-2021-0343
Authors Robert K. Al-Chokhachy, Benjamin Letcher, Clint C. Muhlfeld, Jason Dunham, Timothy Joseph Cline, Nathaniel P. Hitt, James J. Roberts, David Schmetterling
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Index ID 70238968
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; Leetown Science Center; Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center