Ayllón D, Almodóvar A, Nicola GG, Elvira B. Ontogenetic and spatial variations in brown trout habitat selection.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2010: 19: 420–432. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S
Abstract – Habitat quality and quantity determine many biological processes and traits that directly affect the population dynamics of stream fishes. Understanding how habitat selection is adjusted to different ecological conditions is essential to improve predictive modelling of population dynamics. We describe brown trout Salmo trutta summer habitat selection patterns through univariate and multivariate habitat selection functions across defined river reach typologies. We sampled 44 sites and performed a principal component analysis that defined eight reach types differing in both local site and catchment-scale physical features. We observed ontogenetic changes in habitat selection, as trout preferred deeper and slower flowing water as they increased in size. Likewise, selectivity for different types of structural habitat elements changed through ontogeny. Both patterns were consistent across reach types. Moreover, we detected spatial variations in habitat selection patterns within age-classes among different reach types. Our results indicate that brown trout is a habitat generalist and suggest that spatial variations in habitat selection patterns are driven by physical and environmental factors operating at multiple spatial scales.