Date of Award:

12-2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department name when degree awarded

ecology

Advisor/Chair:

Charles Hawkins

Abstract

The introduction of exotic species is one of the greatest threats to freshwater biodiversity. Brown trout are native to Eurasia, but have been introduced to much of the rest of the world, including the United States. In other parts of their introduced range, brown trout have caused substantial negative effects to native species‟ abundances and distributions, and have altered the structure of some aquatic communities. In the United States, studies of some streams and watersheds have shown that brown trout can negatively affect native species, but I found no study that considers the effect of brown trout across a large portion of their introduced range.

For this study, I examined if (1) the abundance and distribution of two ecologically different native fish taxa (sculpins and speckled dace) and (2) the structure of entire stream vertebrate assemblages were negatively associated with the presence and abundance of brown trout. I based my analyses on existing, standardized survey data collected across streams of the western United States. I found no relationship between brown trout and the abundance, presence-absence, or probability of detection of sculpins or speckled dace. I also found that brown trout were not associated with the structure of native stream vertebrate assemblages. My results imply that native stream vertebrates in western US streams are able to coexist with brown trout across the western United States, despite the negative effects brown trout can have on some taxa in individual watersheds or rivers.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on November 21, 2011.