Landscapes influence the capacity of streams to produce trout through their effect on water chemistry and other factors at the reach scale. Trout abundance also fluctuates over time; thus, to thoroughly understand how spatial factors at landscape scales affect trout populations, one must assess the changes in populations over time to provide a context for interpreting the importance of spatial factors. We used data from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's fisheries management database to investigate spatial factors that affect the capacity of streams to support brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis and to provide models useful for their management. We assessed the relative importance of spatial and temporal variation by calculating variance components and comparing relative standard errors for spatial and temporal variation. We used binary logistic regression to predict the presence of harvestable-length brook trout and multiple linear regression to assess the mechanistic links between landscapes and trout populations and to predict population density. The variance in trout density among streams was equal to or greater than the temporal variation for several streams, indicating that differences among sites affect population density. Logistic regression models correctly predicted the absence of harvestable-length brook trout in 60% of validation samples. The r 2-value for the linear regression model predicting density was 0.3, indicating low predictive ability. Both logistic and linear regression models supported buffering capacity against acid episodes as an important mechanistic link between landscapes and trout populations. Although our models fail to predict trout densities precisely, their success at elucidating the mechanistic links between landscapes and trout populations, in concert with the importance of spatial variation, increases our understanding of factors affecting brook trout abundance and will help managers and private groups to protect and enhance populations of wild brook trout. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2006.
Additional publication details
Influence of landscape-scale factors in limiting brook trout populations in Pennsylvania streams