Quantification of thermal impacts across freshwater life stages to improve temperature management for anadromous salmonids
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Quantification of thermal impacts across freshwater life stages to improve temperature management for anadromous salmonids

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  • Journal Title:
    Conservation Physiology
  • Description:
    Water temperature is the major controlling factor that shapes the physiology, behaviour and, ultimately, survival of aquatic ectotherms. Here we examine temperature effects on the survival of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), a species of high economic and conservation importance. We implement a framework to assess how incremental changes in temperature impact survival across populations that is based on thermal performance models for three freshwater life stages of Chinook salmon. These temperature-dependent models were combined with local spatial distribution and phenology data to translate spatial–temporal stream temperature data into maps of life stage-specific physiological performance in space and time. Specifically, we converted temperature-dependent performance (i.e. energy used by pre-spawned adults, mortality of incubating embryos and juvenile growth rate) into a common currency that measures survival in order to compare thermal effects across life stages. Based on temperature data from two abnormally warm and dry years for three managed rivers in the Central Valley, California, temperature-dependent mortality during pre-spawning holding was higher than embryonic mortality or juvenile mortality prior to smolting. However, we found that local phenology and spatial distribution helped to mitigate negative thermal impacts. In a theoretical application, we showed that high temperatures may inhibit successful reintroduction of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon to two rivers where they have been extirpated. To increase Chinook salmon population sizes, especially for the threatened and declining spring-run, our results indicate that adults may need more cold-water holding habitat than currently available in order to reduce pre-spawning mortality stemming from high temperatures. To conclude, our framework is an effective way to calculate thermal impacts on multiple salmonid populations and life stages within a river over time, providing local managers the information to minimize negative thermal impacts on salmonid populations, particularly important during years when cold-water resources are scarce.
  • Source:
    ConservPhysiol 10(1): coac013
  • Document Type:
  • Rights Information:
    CC BY
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