Title

Habitat enhancement and native fish conservation: can enhancement of channel complexity promote the coexistence of native and introduced fishes?

Keywords

river restoration, side channel, stream fish, habitat heterogeneity, refuge habitat, fish conservation, brown trout

Abstract

Native fishes worldwide have declined as a consequence of habitat loss and degradation and introduction of non-native species. In response to these declines, river restoration projects have been initiated to enhance habitat and remove introduced fishes; however, non-native fish removal is not always logistically feasible or socially acceptable. Consequently, managers often seek to enhance degraded habitat in such a way that native fishes can coexist with introduced species. We quantified dynamics of fish communities to three newly constructed side channels in the Provo River, Utah, USA, to determine if and how they promoted coexistence between native fishes (nine species) and non-native brown trout (Salmo trutta L.). Native and introduced fishes responded differently in each side channel as a function of the unique characteristics and histories of side channels. Beaver activity in two of the three side channels caused habitat differentiation or channel isolation that facilitated the establishment of native species. The third side channel had greater connectivity to and similar habitat as the main channel of the Provo River, resulting in a similar fish community to main channel habitats (i.e. dominated by brown trout with only a few native fish species). These results demonstrate the importance of understanding habitat preferences for each species in a community to guide habitat enhancement projects and the need to create refuge habitats for native fishes.

Original Publication Citation

E.J. Billman, J.D. Kreitzer, J.C. Creighton, E. Habit, B.M. McMillan, M.C. Belk. 2013. Habitat enhancement and native fish conservation: can enhancement of channel complexity promote the coexistence of native and introduced fishes? Environmental Biology of Fishes 96:555-566.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2012-05-26

Publisher

Environmental Biology of Fishes

Language

English

College

Life Sciences

Department

Biology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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