Charlie Luce

US Forest Service - Rocky Mountain Research Station

Co-Authors: Dan Isaak, Jason Dunham, Bruce Rieman

Abstract: The fundamental changes occurring with climate change are increased air temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. Most obviously within stream systems, these trends translate to warmer stream temperatures and advances in median flow timing. Substantial uncertainty exists about how these changes will affect local habitat networks, which makes prioritization of restoration and conservation efforts difficult. Changing temperature and precipitation regimes will have broad ecological consequences that will manifest through a complexity of interactions and mechanisms. For example, there are numerous ecologically mediated physical processes, including interception of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and stream shading that will be affected by increased insect, drought, and fire mortality. Increased wildfire will also change soils and affect major stream disturbance processes. Some of these cascading and interacting effects will exacerbate initial effects, while others will mitigate. An important question is the relative contributions of processes to changes in streams and bull trout habitats. We present a case study of the Boise River basin examining interactions between multiple physical processes and the ecological outcomes. We discuss changes to streamflows, stream temperatures, and major disturbances through a retrospective of the last half-century and explore how feedbacks can be considered for a more holistic evaluation of climate change effects on bull trout habitats.

Video Length: 13 Minutes, 29 Seconds

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Climate Change, Fire, Water and Bull Trout: A case history of the Boise River