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Title: Stream channel restoration increases climate resiliency in a thermally vulnerable Appalachian river

We quantified stream temperature response to in‐stream habitat restoration designed to improve thermal suitability and resiliency of a high‐elevation Appalachian stream known to support a temperature‐limited brook trout population. Our specific objectives were to determine if: (1) construction of deep pools created channel unit‐scale thermal refugia and (2) reach scale stream channel reconfiguration reduced peak water temperatures along a longitudinal continuum known to be highly susceptible to summer‐time warming. Contrary to expectations, constructed pools did not significantly decrease channel unit‐scale summer water temperatures relative to paired control sites. This suggests that constructed pools did not successfully intercept a cool groundwater source. However, we did find a significant effect of stream channel restoration on reach‐scale thermal regimes. Both mean and maximum daily stream temperatures experienced significantly reduced warming trends in restored sections relative to control sections. Furthermore, we found that restoration efforts had the greatest effect on stream temperatures downstream of large tributaries. Restoration appears to have significantly altered thermal regimes within upper Shavers Fork, largely in response to changes in channel morphology that facilitated water movement below major cold‐water inputs. Decreased longitudinal warming will likely increase the thermal resiliency of the Shavers Fork main‐stem, sustaining the ability of these key large river habitats to continue supporting critical metapopulation processes (e.g. supplemental foraging and dispersal among tributary populations) in the face of climate change.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Restoration Ecology
Medium: X Size: p. 1420-1428
["p. 1420-1428"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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