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Neighbouring populations, opposite dynamics: influence of body size and environmental variation on the demography of stream-resident brown trout (Salmo trutta)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Albert Fernández-Chacón, Meritxell Genovart, David Álvarez, José M Cano, Alfredo F Ojanguren, Rolando Rodriguez-Muñoz, Alfredo G Nicieza

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In organisms such as fish, where body size is considered an important state variable for the study of their population dynamics, size-specific growth and survival rates can be influenced by local variation in both biotic and abiotic factors, but few studies have evaluated the complex relationships between environmental variability and size-dependent processes. We analysed a 6-year capture-recapture dataset of brown trout (Salmo trutta) collected at 3 neighbouring but heterogeneous mountain streams in northern Spain with the aim of investigating the factors shaping the dynamics of local populations. The influence of body size and water temperature on survival and individual growth was assessed under a multi-state modelling framework, an extension of classical capture-recapture models that considers the state (i.e. body size) of the individual in each capture occasion and allows us to obtain state-specific demographic rates and link them to continuous environmental variables. Individual survival and growth patterns varied over space and time, and evidence of size-dependent survival was found in all but the smallest stream. At this stream, the probability of reaching larger sizes was lower compared to the other wider and deeper streams. Water temperature variables performed better in the modelling of the highest-altitude population, explaining over a 99 % of the variability in maturation transitions and survival of large fish. The relationships between body size, temperature and fitness components found in this study highlight the utility of multi-state approaches to investigate small-scale demographic processes in heterogeneous environments, and to provide reliable ecological knowledge for management purposes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

    Research areas

  • Size-structured populations, E-SURGE, Habitat heterogeneity, Temperature, Trout

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