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Thermal tolerances of fishes occupying groundwater and surface-water dominated streams

December 1, 2017

A thermal tolerance study mimicking different stream environments could improve our ecological understanding of how increasing water temperatures affect stream ectotherms and improve our ability to predict organism responses based on river classification schemes. Our objective was to compare the thermal tolerances of stream fishes of different habitat guilds among 3 exposure periods: critical thermal maximum (CTmax, increase of 2°C/h until loss of equilibrium [LOE] and death [D]), and 2 longer-term treatments (net daily increase of 1°C) that mimicked spring-fed (SF; 4°C daily increase) and non-spring-fed (NSF; 8°C daily increase) conditions. Fishes in the pelagic habitat guild had a 1°C higher average CTmax than benthic fishes. Thermal responses of species depended on exposure period with higher and increased variation in tolerances associated with the SF and NSF exposure periods. Logperch, Orangebelly Darter, Orangethroat Darter, and Southern Redbelly Dace were more sensitive to thermal increases regardless of SF or NSF treatment than were the 3 remaining species (Brook Silverside, Central Stoneroller, and Redspot Chub), which represented average thermal responses among the species tested. The 3 species that had a higher thermal response to CTmax-D (lethal endpoint of death) also were able to increase their tolerances more than other species in both SF and NSF treatments. Our data indicate finer guild designations may be useful for predicting thermal-response patterns. A diel thermal refuge increases the thermal responses of ectotherms to daily maxima, but the patterns across our SF and NSF treatments were similar suggesting minimum refuge temperatures may be more important than maximums. Nonetheless, stream temperature cooling over a 24-h period is important to ectotherm thermal tolerances, a result suggesting that sources of cooler water to streams might benefit from protection.

Publication Year 2017
Title Thermal tolerances of fishes occupying groundwater and surface-water dominated streams
DOI 10.1086/694781
Authors Nicole Farless, Shannon K. Brewer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Freshwater Science
Index ID 70196793
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta