Expanding human population and urbanization alters freshwater systems through structural changes to habitat, temperature effects from increased runoff and reduced canopy cover, altered flows, and increased toxicants. Current stream assessments stop short of measuring health or condition of species utilizing these freshwater habitats and fail to link specific stressors mechanistically to the health of organisms in the stream. Juvenile fish growth integrates both external and internal conditions providing a useful indicator of habitat quality and ecosystem health. Thus, there is a need to account for ecological and environmental influences on fish growth accurately. Bioenergetics models can simulate changes in growth and consumption in response to environmental conditions and food availability to account for interactions between an organism's environmental experience and utilization of available resources. The bioenergetics approach accounts for how thermal regime, food supply, and food quality affect fish growth. This study used a bioenergetics modeling approach to evaluate the environmental factors influencing juvenile coho salmon growth among ten Pacific Northwest streams spanning an urban gradient. Urban streams tended to be warmer, have earlier emergence dates and stronger early season growth. However, fish in urban streams experienced increased stress through lower growth efficiencies, especially later in the summer as temperatures warmed, with as much as a 16.6% reduction when compared to fish from other streams. Bioenergetics modeling successfully characterized salmonid growth in small perennial streams as part of a more extensive monitoring program and provides a powerful assessment tool for characterizing mixed life-stage specific responses in urban streams.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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