Thermal habitat restricts patterns of occurrence in multiple life-stages of a headwater fish
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Our lack of knowledge on the spatiotemporal drivers of the distribution of many freshwater fishes, particularly as they differ among life-history stages, is a challenge to conservation of these species. We used 2-stage hurdle models to investigate drivers of occurrence and abundance of locally threatened adult and juvenile Northern River Blackfish in the upper Condamine River, Queensland, Australia. Different processes drive occurrence and abundance between the 2 life-history stages. Both adult and juvenile occurrences were negatively associated with high-magnitude, extended warming events, suggesting Northern River Blackfish are thermally restricted to cooler headwaters. Juveniles had greater sensitivity than adults to high stream temperatures. In contrast, drivers of abundance differed between life-history stages. Adult fish were negatively associated with increased fine-sediment loads, whereas juveniles were negatively associated with a hydrologically active inverse-distance-weighted grazing metric that accounted for the greater influence of grazed land close to the stream or in areas of high overland flow. Teasing apart environmental drivers affecting multiple life-history stages of a locally threatened headwater species enabled us to provide direct management recommendations for conserving this species and ecologically similar headwater fishes and their associated habitats.
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Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified