Two Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) models, developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, were used to evaluate the effects of fine-grained (less than 2 millimeters) sediment on brook trout (Salvelinusfontinalis, Mitchill) and brown trout (Salmo trutta, Linnaeus) in 11 streams in west-central and southwestern Wisconsin. Our results indicated that fine-grained sediment limited brook trout habitat in 8 of 11 streams and brown trout habitat in only one stream. Lack of winter and escape cover for fry was the primary limiting variable for brown trout at 61 percent of the sites, and this factor also limited brook trout at several stations. Pool area or quality, in stream cover, streambank vegetation for erosion control, minimum flow, thalweg depth maximum, water temperature, spawning substrate, riffle dominant substrate, and dissolved oxygen also were limiting to trout in the study streams. Brook trout appeared to be more sensitive to the effects of fine-grained sediment than brown trout. The models for brook trout and brown trout appeared to be useful and objective screening tools for identifying variables limiting trout habitat in these streams. The models predicted that reduction in the amount of fine-grained sediment would improve brook trout habitat. These models may be valuable for establishing instream sediment-reduction goals; however, the decrease in sediment delivery needed to meet these goals cannot be estimated without quantitative data on land use practices and their effects on sediment delivery and retention by streams.
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