Main content area

Non‐native trout limit native brook trout access to space and thermal refugia in a restored large‐river system

Trego, Cory T., Merriam, Eric R., Petty, J. Todd
Restoration ecology 2019 v.27 no.4 pp. 892-900
Salmo trutta, Salvelinus fontinalis, allopatry, altitude, habitat conservation, introduced species, microhabitats, multivariate analysis, refuge habitats, rivers, surveys, sympatry, temperature, trout, United States
We used direct observation via snorkeling surveys to quantify microhabitat use by native brook (Salvelinus fontinalis) and non‐native brown (Salmo trutta) and rainbow (Onchorynchus mykiss) trout occupying natural and restored pool habitats within a large, high‐elevation Appalachian river, United States. Permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) and subsequent two‐way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated a significant difference in microhabitat use by brook and non‐native trout within restored pools. We also detected a significant difference in microhabitat use by brook trout occupying pools in allopatry versus those occupying pools in sympatry with non‐native trout—a pattern that appears to be modulated by size. Smaller brook trout often occupied pools in the absence of non‐native species, where they used shallower and faster focal habitats. Larger brook trout occupied pools with, and utilized similar focal habitats (i.e. deeper, slower velocity) as, non‐native trout. Non‐native trout consistently occupied more thermally suitable microhabitats closer to cover as compared to brook trout, including the use of thermal refugia (i.e. ambient–focal temperature >2°C). These results suggest that non‐native trout influence brook trout use of restored habitats by: (1) displacing smaller brook trout from restored pools, and (2) displacing small and large brook trout from optimal microhabitats (cooler, deeper, and lower velocity). Consequently, benefits of habitat restoration in large rivers may only be fully realized by brook trout in the absence of non‐native species. Future research within this and other large river systems should characterize brook trout response to stream restoration following removal of non‐native species.