Despite the importance of hydrologic regimes to the phenology, demography, and abundance of fishes such as salmonids, there have been surprisingly few syntheses that holistically assess regional, species-specific trends in hydrologic regimes within a framework of climate change. Here, we consider hydrologic regimes within the Greater Yellowstone Area in the Rocky Mountains of western North America to evaluate changes in hydrologic metrics anticipated to affect salmonids, a group of fishes with high regional ecological and socioeconomic value. Our analyses assessed trends across different sites and time periods (1930–, 1950–, and 1970–2015) as means to evaluate spatial and temporal shifts. Consistent patterns emerged from our analyses indicating substantial shifts to (1) earlier peak discharge events; (2) reductions of summer minimum streamflows; (3) declines in the duration of river ice; and (4) decreases in total volume of water. We found accelerated trends in hydrologic change for the 1970–2015 period, with an average peak discharge 7.5 days earlier, 27.5% decline in summer minimum streamflows, and a 15.6% decline in the annual total volume of water (1 October–September 30) across sites. We did observe considerable variability in magnitude of change across sites, suggesting different levels of vulnerability to a changing climate. Our analyses provide an iterative means for assessing climate predictions and an important step in identifying the climate resilience of landscapes.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 17, 2017
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