Spatial and temporal variability in stream thermal regime drivers for three river networks during the summer growing seasonMatthew R. Fuller, Naomi E. Detenbeck, Peter Leinenbach, Rochelle Labiosa, Daniel Isaak
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Water Science and Technology
Many cold water‐dependent aquatic organisms are experiencing habitat and population declines from increasing water temperatures. Identifying mechanisms which drive local and regional stream thermal regimes facilitates restoration at ecologically relevant scales. Stream temperatures vary spatially and temporally both within and among river basins. We developed a modeling process to identify statistical relationships between drivers of stream temperature and covariates representing landscape, climate, and management‐related processes. The modeling process was tested in three study areas of the Pacific Northwest United States during the growing season (May [start], August [warmest], September [end]). Across all months and study systems, covariates with the highest relative importance represented the physical landscape (elevation [1st], catchment area [3rd], main channel slope [5th]) and climate covariates (mean monthly air temperature [2nd] and discharge [4th]). Two management covariates (groundwater use [6th] and riparian shade [7th]) also had high relative importance. Across the growing season (for all basins), local reach slope had high relative importance in May, but transitioned to a regional main channel slope covariate in August and September. This modeling process identified regionally similar and locally unique relationships among drivers of stream temperature. High relative importance of management‐related covariates suggested potential restoration actions for each system.