Biotic and Abiotic Associations with Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) in the North Fork Flathead River Basin in northwestern Montana, USA and southeastern British Columbia, CAN under current and future climate scenarios.
Bachelor of Science
School or Department
Wildlife Biology – Aquatic
Dr. Lisa Eby
Faculty Mentor Department
Dr. Andrew Whiteley, Dr. Mark Hebblewhite, Dr. Clint Muhlfeld
North Fork Flathead River, Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), Species Distribution Model, Climate Change
Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi; WCT) populations are declining across much of their native range due to threats such as habitat degradation, competition with non-native species, and climate change. Understanding how habitat characteristics impact distributions of nonhybridized WCT populations throughout a relatively pristine core conservation area is needed to inform management and conservation efforts. We investigated whether abiotic (e.g., gradient) and biotic (i.e., Bull Trout – Salvelinus confluentus) variables predicted WCT presence and predicted how future stream temperature projections for the area might be expected to alter distributions. We compared logistic regression models of WCT presence throughout tributaries of the North Fork Flathead River in Montana, USA and British Columbia, CAN models using a variety of metrics (e.g., Akaike Information Criterion). WCT were widespread throughout the 293 reaches analyzed (present in 69.3% of reaches). Their presence was predicted by gradient, summer temperature, and an interaction of pool density and Bull Trout. Using this regression model and climate projections under both moderate and extreme emissions scenarios, WCT presence is predicted to increase by 13.0% and 14.1% respectively in 2075 from current distributions based on changes in temperature alone. When changes in Bull Trout distributions and temperatures are considered, WCT distributions are predicted to increase by 13.4% and 17.5% under the moderate and high emissions scenario, respectively. This conservation area is predicted to continue to serve as a WCT stronghold, if other threats can be contained.
Honors College Research Project
GLI Capstone Project
Heinle, Kadie B.; Eby, Lisa; Muhlfeld, Clint; D'Angelo, Vincent; Steed, Amber; Whiteley, Andrew; and Hebblewhite, Mark, "Biotic and Abiotic Associations with Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) in the North Fork Flathead River Basin in northwestern Montana, USA and southeastern British Columbia, CAN under current and future climate scenarios." (2019). Undergraduate Theses and Professional Papers. 231.
© Copyright 2019 Kadie B. Heinle, Lisa Eby, Clint Muhlfeld, Vincent D'Angelo, Amber Steed, Andrew Whiteley, and Mark Hebblewhite