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Physical, biotic, and sampling influences on diel habitat use by stream-dwelling bull trout

Banish, Nolan P.; Peterson, James T.; Thurow, Russell F. 2008. Physical, biotic, and sampling influences on diel habitat use by stream-dwelling bull trout. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 28: 176-187.

We used daytime and nighttime underwater observation to assess microhabitat use by bull trout Salvelinus confluentus (N = 213) in streams of the intermountain western USA during the summers of 2001 and 2002. We recorded fish focal points and measured a set of habitat characteristics as well as habitat availability via line transects. Bull trout were benthic and solitary; most (88%) were observed at night. We developed a conditional logistic regression model to account for the effect of fish movement in response to snorkeling, and we fitted 18 candidate models to evaluate the relative influences of biotic and abiotic factors on habitat use. The candidate models were also fitted with a naive logistic regression (i.e., no movement) to evaluate the effects of movement on inferences of microhabitat use. The most plausible model describing bull trout habitat use was the same for the conditional and naive regressions and included depth, velocity, percent rubble substratum, and the day x depth, body size x depth, and body size x day x depth interactions. The presence of brook trout S. fontinalis and the abundance of conspecifics did not strongly influence microhabitat use by bull trout. The relative rankings of the remaining models differed substantially between the conditional and naive models. Relative to the conditional models, the naive models overestimated the importance of diurnal differences in habitat use and overestimated the use of deepwater habitats, particularly during the day. Both model types suggested that all sizes of bull trout were generally found in deeper, low-velocity habitat at night, whereas small bull trout (70-90 mm total length) were found in shallower habitats during the day. We recommend that biologists account for fish movement in response to sampling to avoid biasing modeled habitat use patterns by bull trout.

Keywords: bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus, sampling

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Physical, biotic, and sampling influences on diel habitat use by stream-dwelling bull trout
Electronic Publish Date: April 7, 2009
Last Update:
April 7, 2009

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