Age-0 Smallmouth Bass abundance depends on physicochemical conditions and stream network position

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Stream fish survival and recruitment are products of a physicochemical environment that affects growth and provides refuge; yet, the drivers of spatiotemporal variation in juvenile fish abundance remain unclear. Understanding how physicochemical conditions drive spatial and temporal patterns in fish abundances provides insight into how conditions across stream networks influence fish population success, thereby providing direction to managers about the types and locations of conservation actions that would be most beneficial. Using snorkel and habitat surveys of 120 sites sampled from 2015 to 2017, we evaluated the multiscale relationships among physicochemical features, hydrology, and age-0 Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu velox) abundance in relation to network spatial position. Abundance of age-0 bass was spatiotemporally variable in relation to a July streamflow–network position interaction, a pool depth–stream size interaction, and a stream temperature–network position interaction. High flows at the end of the nesting season were related to lower age-0 abundance, but this effect was dampened in stream reaches in close proximity to larger mainstems. In small streams, reaches with deeper pool habitat supported higher age-0 bass abundances, but this trend was not apparent in larger tributaries and mainstem systems. Generally, colder streams had lower age-0 Smallmouth Bass abundance, though this relationship was not apparent in reaches adjacent to larger streams that generally supported higher age-0 bass abundances. Conservation actions that (1) facilitate habitat connectivity within and among streams, (2) limit future anthropogenic practices that alter natural geomorphology by creating shallower stream channels, and (3) maintain adequate flow magnitude and timing to support channel complexity (e.g., deeper pools within smaller catchments) would be most beneficial to supporting rearing habitat for age-0 riverine Smallmouth Bass.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Age-0 Smallmouth Bass abundance depends on physicochemical conditions and stream network position
Series title Ecosphere
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.3245
Volume 11
Issue 9
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta, Fort Collins Science Center
Description e03245, 17 p.
Country United States
State Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
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