University of Oulu

Responses of brown trout and benthic invertebrates to catchment-scale disturbance and in-stream restoration measures in boreal river systems

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Author: Louhi, Pauliina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2010
Publish Date: 2010-10-26
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science of the University of Oulu for public defence in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on 5 November 2010, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Daniel Hering
Doctor Fabio Lepori


Maintaining connectivity in boreal streams by rehabilitation procedures is a challenging task that requires ecological understanding based on empirical research. In this thesis, I examined the effects of stream rehabilitation on densities and growth of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.), as well as on benthic biodiversity. As streams are known to be closely connected to their watersheds, I also examined the effects of watershed drainage activities on stream organisms.

The results of this thesis have implications for enhancing salmonid populations, as well for maintaining stream biodiversity. First, regional climatic variability was shown to override local impacts of watershed management on stream biota. This highlights the importance of placing results from local studies in a regional context. Second, increased sedimentation that typically follows anthropogenic actions in the watershed did not only cause direct mortality on the early life stages of brown trout, but also forced them to emerge earlier from gravel and constrained their development. Thus, sedimentation may have far-reaching fitness consequences on juvenile salmonids.

Third, while instream rehabilitation did enhance habitat diversity for salmonid fish, there were only marginal effects on juvenile fish and benthic biodiversity. Therefore, the factors limiting stream biota, and obscuring positive effects of rehabilitation, are to be found elsewhere. For this purpose, my thesis offers at least three potential, not mutually exclusive explanations: (i) land use changes have altered watersheds and this can be seen as decreased stream biodiversity that cannot be corrected through local-scale restoration efforts; (ii) a habitat-forming organism group, stream bryophytes, is dispersal limited, slowing down any positive responses to restoration by fish or invertebrates that depend strongly on bryophytes; and (iii) changes to stream habitat heterogeneity caused by channelization for timber floating were rather modest to start with, and therefore any effects of stream habitat rehabilitation on stream biota are likely to be subtle.

Based on these findings, I suggest that future restoration efforts should be prioritized according to a comprehensive watershed assessment. Also, monitoring of projects should be more rigorous and preferably multidisciplinary, documenting the ecological as well as hydrological and socioeconomic outcomes of rehabilitation projects.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 978-951-42-6321-7
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6320-0
Issue: 565
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2010. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.