August 3, 2017 8:25 pm

Trent University specialists study the urban habitat of the Brook trout population in Peterborough

A study of a Brook trout habitat in Peterborough could help other municipalities preserve their populations of the indigenous fish.

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Brook trout, one of only two indigenous trout species in Canada, prefer to live in cold, fast-running streams. But the exact requirements to support a healthy population in an urban setting are unknown.

The study by Trent University in conjunction with the Kawartha Field Naturalists is designed to find out exactly what Brook trout require.

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The population under study live in Harper Creek, which runs along the south edge of the city of Peterborough. Staff have spent the month of July, studying which parts of the creek the trout gather in and will revisit the areas to note any changes.

“We’ve been trying to characterize the habitat they prefer in the summer months, and then we will sample these same sites in fall, winter and spring to see what sites they prefer throughout all seasons of the year,” says Scott Blair.

A short distance away from Harper Creek, a road is being built to service the new Shorelines Casino. The effect of the runoff from that road on the health of the trout population has the team concerned.

Brook trout populations in urban streams often face such challenges, and the study may shed some light on what could be best practices when it comes to preserving them.

“In southern Ontario, we’ve lost a lot of cold water habitat through development and other things, human expansion, and understanding how a cold-water species has persisted this long can give us some understanding of what we can do to maintain what we still have,” said fisheries biologist Tom Brooke.

The Brook trout study team will soon be identifying fish with cheek tags and electronic monitors to track their movement.

Blair says that while people have the right to fish for trout in Harper Creek, he hopes they will refrain from doing so until their study is completed in the fall of 2018.

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