Characterization of stream fish assemblages and land use associations within a southern Ohio National Forest Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5712m868f

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  • Seasonally, in 1998 and 1999, I examined spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblages of agricultural, forested, and acid mine drainage tributaries within the Wayne National Forest (WNF) in southern Ohio. Land use and natural disturbance explained patterns in stream fish assemblages. Creek chub and green sunfish were present in all land use types. Generally, with the exception of creek chub and green sunfish, species most abundant in one land use type occurred infrequently in the other land use types sampled. For example, redbelly dace and blacknose dace dominated forested assemblages but rarely occurred in mining or agricultural assemblages. Agricultural sites consisted of higher order streams, located at lower elevations with reduced canopy cover. Forested sites included intermittent streams associated with higher elevation, low stream order, and high canopy cover. Acidic conditions characterized mining sites, which otherwise remained physically similar to forested sites. Stream order, elevation, and canopy cover explained the majority of the variance in assemblage structure within 1998, and pH was also important. In 1999, water quality, specifically dissolved oxygen, and seasonal variation became important. Assemblages changed following drought in 1999. Forested assemblages remained most similar following drought, while agricultural assemblages exhibited less similarity (i.e., greater variability). These results suggest that large-scale reach characteristics and chemical signals related to land use are important to fish assemblage structure, but in times of environmental fluctuation, water chemistry of other site-specific variables may be of even greater importance due to physiological tolerances and limitations of fishes.
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