Vulnerability of Gila trout streams to future wildfires and temperature warming

Project Summary:

Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and severity of wildfires, warm stream temperatures, and negatively impact native trout habitat. Southwestern native trouts are often isolated from nonnative salmonids above conservation barriers and have a limited ability to recolonize after disturbances or move to track changing environmental conditions such as stream temperature. We combined wildfire, debris-flow, and 2080s stream temperature models to identify Gila Trout Oncorhynchus gilae habitats least vulnerable to these threats and guide conservation efforts. Wildfire risk, debris-flow probability, debris-flow volume, minimum 2080s mean August temperature, and kilometers of habitat with 2080s August temperatures <18.5°C were summarized for each Gila Trout stream and ranked for overall vulnerability. The vulnerability rankings can be used to inform conservation actions such as reintroductions, habitat restoration, or nonnative fish eradications while considering these climate-related threats and other factors. Conservation decisions mindful of climate resiliency will best ensure that these unique but threatened native trouts remain on the landscape in the southwestern U.S. in future climates.

Dauwalter, D.C., J.E. Williams, J. McGurrin, J.E. Brooks, D.L. Propst. 2017. Vulnerability of Gila trout streams to future wildfires and temperature warming. Pages 195-205 in Proceedings of the Wild Trout XII Symposium, R. F. Carline, editor. Science, politics, and wild trout management: who’s driving and where are we going? Proceedings of the Wild Trout XII Symposium. West Yellowstone, Montana.

Wild Trout XII presentation on 28 Sept. 2017 (ppsx, or pdf with notes)

Interactive map: Gila Trout Wildfire Vulnerability (click map to enter)

Sampling for Gila trout in Whiskey Creek after the Whitewater-Baldy fire in 2012. Credit: J. Brooks

Whitewater-Baldy Fire impacts near West Fork Mogollon Creek


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