The suitability of using regional Habitat Quality Index (HQI) models for predicting distributions of juvenile salmon (Salmo salar L.) was examined using data acquired from selected rivers within Quebec, Canada. Regional HQI models were derived by identifying preferences of salmon fry and parr for the habitat properties of flow velocity, water column depth and granulometric index (an index of substrate size) for groups of rivers. These were compared with local HQI models, derived from preferences for habitat properties within individual rivers. Relationships between HQI values and densities of juvenile salmon were established through the use of nonlinear regression. In all cases, the regional HQI models were less effective for explaining distributions of juvenile salmon than local HQI models based on individual rivers. Regional HQI models were relatively ineffective when the habitat characteristics of the river to which they were applied differed greatly from the characteristics of the other rivers within the region. It is inferred that the relationship between the effectiveness of the regional HQI model and the difference in characteristics between individual rivers and those of the region may be used in an a priori determination of whether a regional HQI may be applied effectively to any given river.
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