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Life history theory predicts fish assemblage response to hydrologic regimes

Mims, Meryl C. ; Olden, Julian D.

Ecology, January 2012, Vol.93(1), pp.35-45 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Life history theory predicts fish assemblage response to hydrologic regimes
  • Autor: Mims, Meryl C. ; Olden, Julian D.
  • Assuntos: Disturbance ; Flow Regime ; Freshwater Fishes ; Life History ; Traits ; United States
  • É parte de: Ecology, January 2012, Vol.93(1), pp.35-45
  • Descrição: The hydrologic regime is regarded as the primary driver of freshwater ecosystems, structuring the physical habitat template, providing connectivity, framing biotic interactions, and ultimately selecting for specific life histories of aquatic organisms. In the present study, we tested ecological theory predicting directional relationships between major dimensions of the flow regime and life history composition of fish assemblages in perennial free‐flowing rivers throughout the continental United States. Using long‐term discharge records and fish trait and survey data for 109 stream locations, we found that 11 out of 18 relationships (61%) tested between the three life history strategies (opportunistic, periodic, and equilibrium) and six hydrologic metrics (two each describing flow variability, predictability, and seasonality) were statistically significant ( ≤ 0.05) according to quantile regression. Our results largely support a priori hypotheses of relationships between specific flow indices and relative prevalence of fish life history strategies, with 82% of all significant relationships observed supporting predictions from life history theory. Specifically, we found that (1) opportunistic strategists were positively related to measures of flow variability and negatively related to predictability and seasonality, (2) periodic strategists were positively related to high flow seasonality and negatively related to variability, and (3) the equilibrium strategists were negatively related to flow variability and positively related to predictability. Our study provides important empirical evidence illustrating the value of using life history theory to understand both the patterns and processes by which fish assemblage structure is shaped by adaptation to natural regimes of variability, predictability, and seasonality of critical flow events over broad biogeographic scales.

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