The Effect of Urbanization on Fish Community Structure in a Large Michigan Watershed

The Effect of Urbanization on Fish Community Structure in a Large Michigan Watershed

Kurt R. Newman, Daniel B. Hayes, and William W. Taylor

The Effect of Urbanization on Fish Community Structure in a Large Michigan WatershedThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

Management of stream fish populations depends on management of the stream's watershed. This is because land use modifications occurring within a watershed ultimately influence the quality of the stream environment and fish habitat. Documenting changes in land cover over time and comparing them to quantitative changes in fish community composition is important to allow us to assess and predict the consequences of proposed or observed changes in land use for fish communities. This study evaluates changes in the fish community between 1938 and 1996 within a large Michigan watershed undergoing extensive urbanization. Of 65 fish species observed in 1938, 24 species have disappeared, the distribution of 35 species has been reduced, and the distribution of only 6 species showed no change or increased by 1996. Mean fish species richness declined significantly (P < 0.0001) from 13.7 species per site in 1938 to 3.7 species per site in 1996. Continued urbanization of the watershed is expected to adversely affect the ability of the fish community to persist in its present form if left unchecked.

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