Most key life-events of organisms are synchronized by complex interactions of several environmental cues to ensure optimal survival and growth of individuals and their offspring. However, global change is known to affect multiple components of ecosystems and cues at the same time. Therefore, detecting joint trends in covariate time series is a crucial challenge in global change ecology that has rarely been addressed so far. In this context, we designed an innovative combination of kernel density estimations and Mann-Kendall trend tests to detect joint temporal trends in a pair of environmental variables. This methodological framework was tested on >30 years (1976-2019) of water temperature and discharge data for 6 large French rivers (the Garonne, Dordogne, Rhône, Rhine, Loire and Vienne rivers). The implications of such trends in both temperature and discharge for diadromous species key life-cycle processes were then explored by checking if significant bivariate environmental changes occurred during seasons of upstream and downstream migration, and reproductive activities. Results were contrasted between rivers and seasons: many rivers displayed an increase in the number of days with high water temperature and low river discharge, but local discharge regulation measures could have mitigated the trend in discharge. Our findings showed that species migrating or spawning in spring were likely to be strongly impacted by the new environmental conditions in the Garonne, Loire and Rhône rivers, given the marked changes in water temperature and discharge associations detected by our new method. Conditions experienced by fall-running and spawning species have been strongly affected in all the rivers studied. This innovative methodology was implemented in a new R package, ChocR, for application to other environments and ecosystems. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.