Spatial and temporal movement dynamics of brook Salvelinus fontinalis and brown trout Salmo trutta

Abstract

Native eastern brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis and naturalized brown trout Salmo trutta occur sympatrically in many streams across the brook trout’s native range in the eastern United States. Understanding within- among-species variability in movement, including correlates of movement, has implications for management and conservation. We radio tracked 55 brook trout and 45 brown trout in five streams in a north-central Pennsylvania, USA watershed to quantify the movement of brook trout and brown trout during the fall and early winter to (1) evaluate the late-summer, early winter movement patterns of brook trout and brown trout, (2) determine correlates of movement and if movement patterns varied between brook trout and brown trout, and (3) evaluate genetic diversity of brook trout within and among study streams, and relate findings to telemetry-based observations of movement. Average total movement was greater for brown trout (mean ± SD = 2,924 ± 4,187 m) than for brook trout (mean ± SD = 1,769 ± 2,194 m). Although there was a large amount of among-fish variability in the movement of both species, the majority of movement coincided with the onset of the spawning season, and a threshold effect was detected between stream flow and movement: where movement increased abruptly for both species during positive flow events. Microsatellite analysis of brook trout revealed consistent findings to those found using radio-tracking, indicating a moderate to high degree of gene flow among brook trout populations. Seasonal movement patterns and the potential for relatively large movements of brook and brown trout highlight the importance of considering stream connectivity when restoring and protecting fish populations and their habitats.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Jason Detar, Dave Kristine, and John Sweka for assisting with field sampling, and Josh Hickey, Evan Faulk, and Zeb Buck for assisting with radio tracking. We also thank Shannon Julian for assistance with genetic analyses and Todd Petty for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Finally, we thank the Pennsylvania District of Conservation and Natural Resources (Steve VanEerden) for allowing access to their property to conduct this research. Funding was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The handling of fish followed protocols approved by The Pennsylvania State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC # 35254). The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessary represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Correspondence to Lori A. Davis.

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Disclaimer: This draft manuscript is distributed solely for purposes of scientific peer review. Its content is deliberative and predecisional, so it must not be disclosed or released by reviewers. Because the manuscript has not yet been approved for publication by the US Geological Survey (USGS), it does not represent any official finding or policy.

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Davis, L.A., Wagner, T. & Bartron, M.L. Spatial and temporal movement dynamics of brook Salvelinus fontinalis and brown trout Salmo trutta . Environ Biol Fish 98, 2049–2065 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-015-0428-y

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Keywords

  • Brook trout
  • Brown trout
  • Fish movement