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Elevated summer temperatures delay spawning and reduce redd construction for resident brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)


Correspondence: Dana R. Warren, tel. + 541 737 9129, fax + 541 737 3590, e-mail:


Redd (nest) surveys for resident brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were conducted annually in a mountain lake in northern New York for 11 years with multiple surveys conducted during the spawning season in eight of those years. Repeated surveys throughout the spawning season allowed us to fit an individually based parametric model and estimate the day of year on which spawning was initiated, reached its midpoint, and ended during each year. Spawning phenology was then assessed relative to (1) mean of maximum daily air temperature and (2) mean of maximum daily water temperature at the lake bottom during summer in each year using a linear model. Elevated temperatures in summer were correlated with a delay in spawning and a reduction in the total number of redds constructed. Increasing the summer mean of maximum daily air temperatures by 1 °C delayed spawning by approximately 1 week and decreased the total number of redds constructed by nearly 65. Lake spawning brook trout select redd sites based on the presence of discharging groundwater that is relatively constant in temperature within and across years, leading to relatively consistent egg incubation times. Therefore, delayed spawning is likely to delay fry emergence, which could influence emergence synchrony with prey items. This work highlights non-lethal and sub-lethal effects of elevated summer temperatures on native resident salmonids in aquatic environments with limited thermal refugia.