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Daily temperature experience and selection by adfluvial bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)


Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are a thermally sensitive cold-water species with a threatened conservation status across much of North America. To improve our understanding of bull trout thermal ecology, we tagged more than 150 adults with temperature-sensing acoustic biotelemetry transmitters and monitored the animals in a British Columbia reservoir for two years. Thermal resource selection was estimated in open water from the summer to autumn as the system transitioned to isothermal conditions. On average, bull trout thermal history tracked seasonal changes and remained close to the optimum temperatures for growth and metabolism. As summer progressed, bull trout increasingly selected temperatures of 11–15 °C as they became less available within the water column. Selection indicated the movement to shallower waters where 11–15 °C temperatures existed. The results show that bull trout mainly occupy a narrow range of temperatures which suggests the importance of cold-water refuge for the species.

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We would like to thank Sean Landsman, Jason Thiem, Jeff Nitychoruk, Mark Taylor, Juan Molina, Taylor Nettles and Karen Bray. Thanks to our boat driver and friend Jamie Tippe. We would also like to thank Rick Chartraw for his hospitality. We thank the BC Ministry of Environment for issuing the necessary permits to carry out this study. This work was supported by BC Hydro, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (through NSERC HydroNet, grant number CRDPJ 387271-09 and NSERC DGs to Cooke and Power) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (through the Centre of Expertise on Hydropower Impacts of Fish). Cooke is further supported by the Canada Research Chairs Program. All tagging procedures were approved by the Carleton University Animal Care Committee. Fish were obtained under the scientific collection permits issues by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (Permit No. CB-PG10-61414).

Author information

LFGG and PMH conceived and designed the study. LFGG, PMH, EGM, DAP and SJC performed field work. LFGG and EGM performed the analyses. LFGG and SJC wrote the manuscript; all other authors contributed editorial advice.

Correspondence to L. F. G. Gutowsky.

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Gutowsky, L.F.G., Harrison, P.M., Martins, E.G. et al. Daily temperature experience and selection by adfluvial bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Environ Biol Fish 100, 1167–1180 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0634-x

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  • Charr
  • Resource selection function
  • Habitat selection
  • Thermal history