Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Watershed Sciences


Nicolaas Bouwes


Criteria used to characterize lotic salmonid habitat are often based on observed correlations between physical habitat characteristics and salmonid abundances. A focus on physical habitat features ignores other habitat components, such as an adequate supply of food that set the physiological limitations on salmonid growth and survival. This study outlines the development of a habitat assessment approach that focuses on how invertebrate food availability interacts with stream temperatures to determine salmonid growth potentials. Abundances of benthic and drifting invertebrate communities, stream temperatures, and juvenile steelhead trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) summer growth rates and abundances were measured within 10 distinct stream segments in central Oregon. Stream temperatures and growth rates were used as inputs for bioenergetics model simulations to produce estimates of O. mykiss summer consumption rates. Measures of invertebrates providing the best description of food availability were chosen based on their ability to explain observed variation in salmonid consumption. Much of the variation in O. mykiss consumption estimates was explained by measurements of total drift biomass along a type II predator response curve. A random effects analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to partition variation in invertebrate abundances across spatial and temporal scales. Quantification of variation at multiple scales allowed identification of a relevant spatial scale at which to assess macroinvertebrates relevant to salmonid populations, and compare the precision associated with measures of benthic and drifting invertebrate abundances. Results suggested that spatial variation in drifting and benthic invertebrate abundances are greatest at the scale of streams. Total drift biomass and total benthic biomass were more precise at the stream and stream reach scale than drift and benthic density. The information provided by this study will be used to guide the development of sampling approaches that describe invertebrates in a manner more directly related to salmonid production.

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