Quantifying the Roles of Changing Watershed Conditions and Biotic Interactions in Structuring Pennsylvania Stream Fish Communities
February 2020 - January 2022
- Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Understanding and predicting fish community interactions and their response to environmental stressors is of utmost importance for fisheries and water resource management. For example, state agencies and other water resource agencies rely on knowledge of stream and river fish communities for assessment programs, many of which have regulatory ramifications and implications for water and fisheries management and aquatic resource use activities. However, traditional fish community studies fail to accommodate potential interactions that exist among the entire fish assemblage and thus represent an overly simplistic view of community dynamics. This is important because treating species independently when quantifying and predicting their responses to changing watershed conditions ignores potential dependencies between species due to biotic interactions and can lead to erroneous predictions. Therefore, the overarching goal of this research is to help inform fisheries and water resource management and conservation by improving our understanding of the relative roles of fish species interactions, environmental factors, and how species traits influence a species’ response to changing watershed conditions in Pennsylvania streams and rivers. The project is in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and Penn State University.