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CADDIS Volume 2: Sources, Stressors & Responses

energy sources physical habitat hydrology temperature water and sediment quality stormwater runoff wastewater inputs riparian and channel alteration urbanization

Temperature & biotic condition in urban streams

Biotic responses associated with increased temperatures in urban streams include (but are not limited to):


Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Photo by Wayne Davis, courtesy of U.S. EPA

Coldwater fishes such as salmonids are among the taxa most affected by temperature increases. For example, Runge et al. (2008) found that the survival of stocked rainbow trout in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, was negatively related to the amount of time water temperatures exceeded 20°C (Fig 30), and that fish dispersed from warmer downstream reaches to cooler upstream reaches.

It should be noted, however, that other studies have found little or no relationship between water temperature and biota in urban streams (Kemp & Spotila 1997, Walters et al. 2009)—and as with all urbanization-associated stressors, it often is difficult to determine which of these often correlated stressors are driving biotic responses.

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Figure 29. Relationship between % connected imperviousness and coldwater fish species richness and abundance in 33 Wisconsin and Minnesota trout streams.
From Wang L et al. 2003. Impacts of urban land cover on trout streams in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 132:825-839. Reprinted with permission.
Figure 30. Estimates of monthly rainbow trout survival vs. number of temperature exceedances at upstream (circles, dashed line) and downstream (triangles, solid line) study reaches. An exceedance was defined as any 15-minute interval in which temperature exceeded 20°C; numbers represent months in which exceedances were recorded (e.g., 6=June).
From Runge JP et al. 2008. Survival and dispersal of hatchery-raised rainbow trout in a river basin undergoing urbanization. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 28:745-757. Reprinted with permission.

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