Dams create barriers to fish migration and dispersal in drainage basins, and the removal of dams is often viewed as a means of increasing habitat availability and restoring migratory routes of several fish species. However, these barriers can also isolate and protect native taxa from aggressive downstream invaders. We examined fish community composition two years prior to and two years after the removal of a pair of low-head dams from Boulder Creek, Wisconsin, U.S.A. in 2003 to determine if removal of these potential barriers affected the resident population of native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Despite the presence of other taxa in the downstream reaches, and in other similar streams adjacent to the Boulder Creek (including the brown trout, Salmo trutta), no new species had colonized the Boulder Creek in the two years following dam removal. The adults catch per unit effort (CPUE) was lower and the young-of-the-year catch per unit effort (YOY CPUE) was higher in 2005 than in 2001 in all reaches, but the magnitude of these changes was substantially larger in the two dam-affected sample reaches relative to an upstream reference reach, indicating a localized effect of the removal. Total length of the adults and the YOY and the adult body condition did not vary between years or among reaches. Thus, despite changes in numbers of adults and the YOYs in some sections of the stream, the lack of new fish species invading Boulder Creek and the limited extent of population change in brook trout indicate that dam removal had a minor effect on these native salmonids in the first two years of the post-removal. Copyright ?? 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Effects of dam removal on brook trout in a Wisconsin stream