Using fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing in fisheries applications: An example from the Ozark Highlands

Fisheries Research(2023)

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Studies of thermal selection by organisms, including fishes, are common and provide data that are useful for conservation and management. Advances in temperature sensing technology have improved these studies; however, the benefits of new technology (e.g., increased accuracy and greater deployment flexibility) should be carefully considered and compared to disadvantages (e.g., higher costs and training requirements). Fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing (FO-DTS) has become more common in aquatic applications and may provide a novel and useful method of relating thermal patchiness to habitat selection by fishes or other aquatic organisms. We present a case study using FO-DTS to conduct a microhabitat-scale resource selection study using stream fishes of the Ozark Highland ecoregion in the south-central United States. We describe the setup and deployment of FO-DTS and how it was integrated into traditional microhabitat survey methods at three stream sites that were repeatedly surveyed over consecutive days. We successfully used FO-DTS to characterize thermal selection by Neosho Bass Micropterus velox at our sites and conclude that the technology would be applicable to similar, microhabitat-scale evaluations. We then compare costs, benefits, and disadvantages of FO-DTS to other sensing methods that could have been used to complete our study. We found that FO-DTS provided accurate measures and greater coverage compared to most alternatives but that equipment costs were far greater. We provide suggestions for additional fisheries applications where FO-DTS may be useful while acknowledging that in some instances, the upfront costs of the technology may outweigh the potential benefits.
Distributed temperature sensing,Ozark highlands,Temperature,Thermal selection
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