Predicting coastal cutthroat trout molt productive capacity from physiographic variables
Burns, Christopher Wayne
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For the management of anadromous coastal cutthroat trout, fisheries managers require an understanding of how physiographic variables, at a watershed scale, influence cutthroat smolt productive capacity. The primary purpose was to produce a practical desktop procedure to reliably predict smolt abundance based upon physiographic variables. A total of 653 annual estimates of smolt abundance from 50 watersheds in British Columbia and Washington State were assessed in this study. Cutthroat dominated reaches were identified using hydrology and mapping data, then modelled to predict smolt abundance. The model results found primarily that smolt abundance was weakly correlated with permanent stream length of 0-4% channel gradient and lake area of 0-5 ha. The results suggest that smolt abundance is limited partially by the availability of physical habitat within a watershed. The model performance could have been influenced by uncertainties related to the species life history diversity, identification, and undocumented barriers to fish movement.
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