Effects of land use on summer thermal regimes in critical salmonid habitats of the Pacific Northwest

Publication: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
16 July 2018


The effect of climate change on stream temperature regimes is of significant concern to natural resource managers focused on protecting cold-water-dependent species. Nevertheless, understanding of how human land-use activities may act to exacerbate the effects of climate change on stream temperature regimes is limited. Using extensive stream temperature data with high-resolution climate and habitat data, we quantified how land management activities are related to summer stream temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, USA. We then described the distribution of land management practices influencing summer thermal regimes relative to the distribution of salmonid fish species of conservation concern. After accounting for climatic and geophysical variation, we detected a strong relationship between livestock grazing and summer thermal regimes. Maximum, average, and diel variation in water temperature was greater where livestock grazing was present. Livestock grazing was widespread, occurring in 43%–100% of sites supporting salmonid species of conservation concern. Thus, current land management practices may be intensifying the effects of ongoing climate change in freshwater habitats, acting to further threaten cold-water fishes of conservation concern.


L’effet des changements climatiques sur les régimes thermiques des cours d’eau constitue une importante préoccupation pour les gestionnaires de ressources naturelles qui œuvrent à la protection des espèces dépendant de l’eau froide. La compréhension de l’exacerbation des effets des changements climatiques sur les régimes thermiques des cours d’eau que pourraient causer les activités humaines d’utilisation du sol est toutefois limitée. En combinant d’abondantes données sur la température des cours d’eau à des données climatiques et sur l’habitat de haute résolution, nous quantifions le lien entre les activités d’aménagement du territoire et les températures estivales de cours d’eau dans le Pacific Northwest (États-Unis). Nous décrivons ensuite la répartition des pratiques d’aménagement du territoire qui influencent les régimes thermiques estivaux au vu de la répartition des espèces de salmonidés dont la conservation est préoccupante. Après avoir pris en compte les variations climatiques et géophysiques, nous observons une forte relation entre le pacage du bétail et les régimes thermiques estivaux. Les variations maximums, moyennes et nycthémérales des températures de l’eau sont les plus grandes en présence de pacage d’animaux. Ce dernier est répandu, étant présent dans de 43 % à 100 % des sites supportant des espèces de salmonidés dont la conservation est préoccupante. Les pratiques actuelles d’aménagement du territoire pourraient donc intensifier les effets des changements climatiques en cours dans les habitats d’eau douce, rehaussant la menace qui pèse sur les poissons d’eau froide dont la conservation est préoccupante. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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cover image Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume 76Number 5May 2019
Pages: 753 - 761


Received: 25 April 2018
Accepted: 27 June 2018
Published online: 16 July 2018


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Ryan P. Kovach rkovach@usgs.gov
US Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Missoula, MT 59802, USA.
Clint C. Muhlfeld
US Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, West Glacier, MT 59936, USA.
Robert Al-Chokhachy
US Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA.
Jeffrey V. Ojala
US Forest Service, PIBO Monitoring Program, Logan, UT 84321, USA.
Eric K. Archer
US Forest Service, PIBO Monitoring Program, Logan, UT 84321, USA.


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