Cumulative effects of land use on fish metrics in different types of running waters in Austria

September 25, 2015 - Author: Clemens Trautwein, Rafaela Schinegger, Stefan Schmutz

Journal or Book Title: Aquatic sciences

Volume/Issue: 74/2

Page Number(s): 329-341

Year Published: 2012

The catchment land-use composition of 249 fish sampling sites in Austrian running waters revealed effects on the biological integrity. Beyond correlative analysis, we investigated (1) which land-use category had the strongest effect on fish, (2) whether metrics of functional fish guilds reacted differently, (3) whether there were cumulative effects of land-use categories, and (4) whether effects varied in strength across river types. We fed 5 land-use categories into regression trees to predict the European Fish Index or fish metric of intolerant species (mainly Salmo trutta fario). Agriculture and urbanisation were the best predictors and indicated significant effects at levels of >23.3 and >2%, respectively. Model performance was R 2 = 0.15 with the Fish Index and R 2 = 0.46 with intolerant species. The tree structure showed a cumulative effect from agriculture and urbanisation. For the intolerant species metric, a combination of high percentages for agriculture and urbanisation was related to moderate status, whereas <7.3% agriculture were related to good status, although urbanisation was higher than 1.8%. Headwater river types showed stronger responses to land use than river types of lower gradient and turned out to be more sensitive to urbanisation than agriculture.

DOI: 10.1007/s00027-011-0224-5

Type of Publication: Journal Article

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