Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

School or Department

Wildlife Biology


Wildlife Biology – Aquatic

Faculty Mentor Department

Wildlife Biology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Lisa Eby

Faculty Reader(s)

Dr. Andrew Whiteley, Dr. Mark Hebblewhite, Dr. Clint Muhlfeld


North Fork Flathead River, Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), Species Distribution Model, Climate Change

Subject Categories

Life Sciences


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


Included in

Life Sciences Commons



© Copyright 2019 Kadie B. Heinle, Lisa Eby, Clint Muhlfeld, Vincent D'Angelo, Amber Steed, Andrew Whiteley, and Mark Hebblewhite