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Shift of spawning season and effects of climate warming on developmental stages of a grayling (Salmonidae)
River-dwelling fish, such as European graylings (Thymallus thymallus), are susceptible to changes in climate because they can often not avoid suboptimal temperatures, especially during early developmental stages. We analyzed data collected in a 62-year-long (1948-2009) population monitoring program. Male and female graylings were sampled about three times/week during the yearly spawning season in order to follow the development of the population. The occurrence of females bearing ripe eggs was used to approximate the timing of each spawning season. In the last years of the study, spawning season was more than 3 weeks earlier than in the first years. This shift was linked to increasing water temperatures as recorded over the last 39 years with a temperature logger at the spawning site. In early spring water temperatures rose more slowly than in later spring. Thus, embryos and larvae were exposed to increasingly colder water at a stage that is critical for sex determination and pathogen resistance in other salmonids. In summer, however, fry were exposed to increasingly warmer temperatures. The changes in water temperatures that we found embryos, larvae, and fry were exposed to could be contributing to the decline in abundance that has occurred over the last 30-40 years.
climate change, life history, monitoring, population decline, river temperature, salmonid, spawning season
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