Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

Committee Chair

Patricia M. Mazik

Committee Member

John A Sweka

Committee Member

Quinton E. Phelps


Growth of an individual is the end result of many physiological processes stemming from the consumption of food items. These processes can be influenced by many variables including temperature. Current bioenergetics models for Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis suggest growth increases with temperature until an inflection point of 20.2°C. With a warming climate, and water temperatures expected to rise, the ability of a population to adapt to the warming environment is crucial to the survival of the species. For this study we sought to see how spatial variation would influence the specific consumption, conversion efficiency, and specific growth at consumption maximum (C-Max), as well as the routine metabolic rate (RMR) of four source populations of Brook Trout in West Virginia’s Central Appalachian Mountains. To accomplish this, we subjected individual fish to identical experimental regimes at three temperatures (12, 16, and 20°C). Experiments included 12 days of maximum consumption (C-Max) experiments followed by routine metabolic rates being measured. The effects of source population and temperature differences were determined using a general linear model and significant differences in model coefficients (p≤0.05). By the end of the study we found that the low elevation stream, which also experiences higher summer mean temperatures, significantly converted the energy of prey items more efficiently and in turn grew significantly faster at elevated water temperatures. Routine metabolic rates were found to be significantly (p≤0.05) different with two populations having a higher intercept but a lower slope coefficient than the other two populations. These findings give hope that a population of cold-water fish can survive climate change if temperatures rise at a slow enough pace to allow for adaptation.