We investigated relationships between the absence of salmonids and low summer water temperatures across a 150-km2 Rocky Mountain watershed. A model predicting maximum July water temperature (MJT) from measurements of perennial stream length, wetted width, and midrange basin elevation was developed from temperature data obtained at 20 sites across the watershed. The model was used to predict MJT in 75 reaches across the watershed where salmonids were sampled. The lowest predicted MJT in reaches where age-0 and juvenile-adult brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis were observed was 9??C. The lowest predicted MJT in reaches where age-0 progeny of the genus Oncorhynchus spp. (i.e., rainbow trout O. mykiss or cutthroat trout O. clarkii) were observed was 13??C and where Oncorhynchus spp. adults where observed was 12??C. The probability of occurrence of both age-0 and adult brook trout and Oncorhynchus spp. increased as MJT increased above these thresholds. Our results indicate that low MJT in some portions of a mountain watershed can be related to the absence of salmonids. Consequently, data on MJT may provide managers with a means of assessing where summer water temperatures are not suitable for establishment of naturalized salmonid populations. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
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Low summer water temperatures influence occurrence of naturalized salmonids across a mountain watershed