Pressure-specific and multiple pressure response of fish assemblages in European running waters

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

Journal or Book Title: Limnologica-Ecology and Management of Inland Waters

Volume/Issue: 43/5

Page Number(s): 348-361

Year Published: 2013

We classified homogenous river types across Europe and searched for fish metrics qualified to show responses to specific pressures (hydromorphological pressures or water quality pressures) vs. multiple pressures in these river types. We analysed fish taxa lists from 3105 sites in 16 ecoregions and 14 countries. Sites were pre-classified for 15 selected pressures to separate unimpacted from impacted sites. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to split unimpacted sites into four homogenous river types based on species composition and geographical location. Classification trees were employed to predict associated river types for impacted sites with four environmental variables. We defined a set of 129 candidate fish metrics to select the best reacting metrics for each river type. The candidate metrics represented tolerances/intolerances of species associated with six metric types: habitat, migration, water quality sensitivity, reproduction, trophic level and biodiversity. The results showed that 17 uncorrelated metrics reacted to pressures in the four river types. Metrics responded specifically to water quality pressures and hydromorphological pressures in three river types and to multiple pressures in all river types. Four metrics associated with water quality sensitivity showed a significant reaction in up to three river types, whereas 13 metrics were specific to individual river types. Our results contribute to the better understanding of fish assemblage response to human pressures at a pan-European scale. The results are especially important for European river management and restoration, as it is necessary to uncover underlying processes and effects of human pressures on aquatic communities.

DOI: 10.1016/j.limno.2013.05.008

Type of Publication: Journal Article

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