Theoretical models and empirical evidence suggest that the invasion of nonnative species in freshwaters is facilitated through the interaction of three factors: habitat quality, biotic resistance, and connectivity. We measured variables that represented each factor to determine which were associated with the occurrence of nonnative brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis in Panther Creek, a tributary to the Salmon River, Idaho. Habitat variables included measures of summer and winter temperature, instream cover, and channel size. The abundance of native rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss within sampled sites was used as a measure of biotic resistance. We also considered the connectivity of sample sites to unconfined valley bottoms, which were considered habitats that may serve as sources for the spread of established populations of brook trout. We analyzed the occurrence of small (<150-mm [fork length]) and large (???150-mm) brook trout separately, assuming that the former represents an established invasion while accounting for the higher potential mobility of the latter. The occurrence of small brook trout was strongly associated with the proximity of sites to large, unconstrained valley bottoms, providing evidence that such habitats may serve as sources for the spread of brook trout invasion. Within sites, winter degree-days and maximum summer temperature were positively associated with the occurrence of small brook trout. The occurrence of large brook trout was not related to any of the variables considered, perhaps due to the difficulty of linking site-specific habitat factors to larger and more mobile individuals. The abundance of rainbow trout was not conclusively associated with the occurrence of either small or large brook trout, providing little support for the role of biotic resistance. Overall, our results suggest that source connectivity and local habitat characteristics, but not biotic resistance, influence the establishment and spread of nonnative brook trout populations. Further work is needed to confirm that the patterns observed here are relevant to other localities where brook trout have invaded and to understand the mechanisms contributing to the invasion process. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2007.
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Invasion by nonnative brook trout in Panther Creek, Idaho: Roles of local habitat quality, biotic resistance, and connectivity to source habitats