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Turners Falls, MA, United States

Jane S.F.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Wilcox T.M.,University of Montana | Mckelvey K.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Young M.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 4 more authors.
Molecular Ecology Resources | Year: 2015

Environmental DNA (eDNA) detection has emerged as a powerful tool for monitoring aquatic organisms, but much remains unknown about the dynamics of aquatic eDNA over a range of environmental conditions. DNA concentrations in streams and rivers will depend not only on the equilibrium between DNA entering the water and DNA leaving the system through degradation, but also on downstream transport. To improve understanding of the dynamics of eDNA concentration in lotic systems, we introduced caged trout into two fishless headwater streams and took eDNA samples at evenly spaced downstream intervals. This was repeated 18 times from mid-summer through autumn, over flows ranging from approximately 1-96 L/s. We used quantitative PCR to relate DNA copy number to distance from source. We found that regardless of flow, there were detectable levels of DNA at 239.5 m. The main effect of flow on eDNA counts was in opposite directions in the two streams. At the lowest flows, eDNA counts were highest close to the source and quickly trailed off over distance. At the highest flows, DNA counts were relatively low both near and far from the source. Biomass was positively related to eDNA copy number in both streams. A combination of cell settling, turbulence and dilution effects is probably responsible for our observations. Additionally, during high leaf deposition periods, the presence of inhibitors resulted in no amplification for high copy number samples in the absence of an inhibition-releasing strategy, demonstrating the necessity to carefully consider inhibition in eDNA analysis. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source


Kanno Y.,University of Connecticut | Kanno Y.,Tennessee Technological University | Vokoun J.C.,University of Connecticut | Letcher B.H.,Silvio nte Anadromous Fish Research Center
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Linear and heterogeneous habitat makes headwater stream networks an ideal ecosystem in which to test the influence of environmental factors on spatial genetic patterns of obligatory aquatic species. We investigated fine-scale population structure and influence of stream habitat on individual-level genetic differentiation in brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) by genotyping eight microsatellite loci in 740 individuals in two headwater channel networks (7.7 and 4.4 km) in Connecticut, USA. A weak but statistically significant isolation-by-distance pattern was common in both sites. In the field, many tagged individuals were recaptured in the same 50-m reaches within a single field season (summer to fall). One study site was characterized with a hierarchical population structure, where seasonal barriers (natural falls of 1.5-2.5 m in height during summer base-flow condition) greatly reduced gene flow and perceptible spatial patterns emerged because of the presence of tributaries, each with a group of genetically distinguishable individuals. Genetic differentiation increased when pairs of individuals were separated by high stream gradient (steep channel slope) or warm stream temperature in this site, although the evidence of their influence was equivocal. In a second site, evidence for genetic clusters was weak at best, but genetic differentiation between individuals was positively correlated with number of tributary confluences. We concluded that the population-level movement of brook trout was limited in the study headwater stream networks, resulting in the fine-scale population structure (genetic clusters and clines) even at distances of a few kilometres, and gene flow was mitigated by 'riverscape' variables, particularly by physical barriers, waterway distance (i.e. isolation-by-distance) and the presence of tributaries. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source


Kanno Y.,University of Connecticut | Kanno Y.,Tennessee Technological University | Vokoun J.C.,University of Connecticut | Holsinger K.E.,University of Connecticut | Letcher B.H.,Silvio nte Anadromous Fish Research Center
Ecology of Freshwater Fish | Year: 2012

We examined habitat factors related to reach-scale brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis counts of four size classes in two headwater stream networks within two contrasting summers in Connecticut, USA. Two study stream networks (7.7 and 4.4km) were surveyed in a spatially continuous manner in their entirety, and a set of Bayesian generalised linear mixed models was compared. Trout abundance was best described by a zero-inflated overdispersed Poisson model. The effect of habitat covariates was not always consistent among size classes and years. There were nonlinear relationships between trout counts and stream temperature in both years. Colder reaches harboured higher trout counts in the warmer summer of 2008, but this pattern was not observed in the cooler and very wet summer of 2009. Amount of pool habitat was nearly consistently important across size classes and years, and counts of the largest size class were correlated positively with maximum depth and negatively with stream gradient. Spatial mapping of trout distributions showed that reaches with high trout counts may differ among size classes, particularly between the smallest and largest size classes, suggesting that movement may allow the largest trout to exploit spatially patchy habitats in these small headwaters. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Source


Kanno Y.,University of Connecticut | Vokoun J.C.,University of Connecticut | Letcher B.H.,Silvio nte Anadromous Fish Research Center
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2011

Brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis populations have declined in much of the native range in eastern North America and populations are typically relegated to small headwater streams in Connecticut, USA. We used sibship reconstruction to infer mating systems, dispersal and effective population size of resident (non-anadromous) brook trout in two headwater stream channel networks in Connecticut. Brook trout were captured via backpack electrofishing using spatially continuous sampling in the two headwaters (channel network lengths of 4.4 and 7.7 km). Eight microsatellite loci were genotyped in a total of 740 individuals (80-140 mm) subsampled in a stratified random design from all 50 m-reaches in which trout were captured. Sibship reconstruction indicated that males and females were both mostly polygamous although single pair matings were also inferred. Breeder sex ratio was inferred to be nearly 1:1. Few large-sized fullsib families (>3 individuals) were inferred and the majority of individuals were inferred to have no fullsibs among those fish genotyped (family size = 1). The median stream channel distance between pairs of individuals belonging to the same large-sized fullsib families (>3 individuals) was 100 m (range: 0-1,850 m) and 250 m (range: 0-2,350 m) in the two study sites, indicating limited dispersal at least for the size class of individuals analyzed. Using a sibship assignment method, the effective population size for the two streams was estimated at 91 (95%CI: 67-123) and 210 (95%CI: 172-259), corresponding to the ratio of effective-to-census population size of 0.06 and 0.12, respectively. Both-sex polygamy, low variation in reproductive success, and a balanced sex ratio may help maintain genetic diversity of brook trout populations with small breeder sizes persisting in headwater channel networks. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source


Kanno Y.,University of Connecticut | Kanno Y.,Silvio nte Anadromous Fish Research Center | Vokoun J.C.,University of Connecticut | Letcher B.H.,Silvio nte Anadromous Fish Research Center
River Research and Applications | Year: 2014

Previous studies of climate change impacts on stream fish distributions commonly project the potential patterns of habitat loss and fragmentation due to elevated stream temperatures at a broad spatial scale (e.g. across regions or an entire species range). However, these studies may overlook potential heterogeneity in climate change vulnerability within local stream networks. We examined fine-scale stream temperature patterns in two headwater brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis stream networks (7.7 and 4.4km) in Connecticut, USA, by placing a combined total of 36 pairs of stream and air temperature loggers that were approximately 300m apart from each other. Data were collected hourly from March to October 2010. The summer of 2010 was hot (the second hottest on record) and had well below average precipitation, but stream temperature was comparable with those of previous 2years because streamflow was dominated by groundwater during base-flow conditions. Nonlinear regression models revealed stream temperature variation within local stream networks, particularly during warmest hours of the day (i.e. late afternoon to evening) during summer. Thermal variability was primarily observed between stream segments, versus within a stream segment (i.e. from confluence to confluence). Several cold tributaries were identified in which stream temperature was much less responsive to air temperature. Our findings suggested that regional models of stream temperature would not fully capture thermal variation at the local scale and may misrepresent thermal resilience of stream networks. Groundwater appeared to play a major role in creating the fine-scale spatial thermal variation, and characterizing this thermal variation is needed for assessing climate change impacts on headwater species accurately. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

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