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Influence of physical and biological habitat variables on juvenile salmonid and invertebrate drift abundance in southwest British Columbia streams Nicol, Sandra Diane

Abstract

Determining the physical and biological habitat variables that influence the abundance of juvenile salmonids in British Columbia streams will improve management practices. Habitat models are tools that provide insight into organisms’ habitat needs and provide a more efficient mechanism for estimating population abundance than direct measurement. Models have been developed for salmonids in other jurisdictions, but very few have included invertebrate drift (a primary food source for juvenile salmonids) as a predictive variable. This is because temporal and spatial variation of drift abundance are widely assumed to be so high that drift cannot be reliably estimated without unreasonable effort. This thesis investigates the temporal and spatial variability of invertebrate drift and the impact of its inclusion in habitat models for juvenile salmonid abundance in two chapters. The first objective of the first chapter was to evaluate the temporal variability of invertebrate drift by comparing the seasonal and day-to-day variation in drift abundance to spatial variation within and between sites. The second objective was to develop predictive models for invertebrate drift abundance. Aquatic, terrestrial and total invertebrate drift abundances varied primarily between sites and very little between days or months at the same site, indicating that a single day of sampling is sufficient to assess drift abundance for comparison among sites. The abundance of invertebrate drift was related to productivity- and flow-related habitat variables. The objectives of the second chapter were to develop predictive models for juvenile salmonid abundance in southwestern BC using physical and biological habitat variables, to determine whether habitat variables differ between the Coast and Interior regions of BC, to determine the contribution of invertebrate drift to the relative predictive ability of the models, and to determine cost:benefit ratios for the predictive models and their component variables. The final models for predicting abundance of all young-of-year salmonids combined, and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and coho salmon (O. kisutch) individually, included variables related to stream structure and productivity, and the models for rainbow and coho showed regional differences. Invertebrate drift did not improve model fit.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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