Variation in fish abundance across systems presents a challenge to our understanding of fish populations because it limits our ability to predict and transfer basic ecological principles to applied problems. Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is an ideal species for exploring environmental and biotic correlates across system because it is widely distributed and physiologically tolerant. In 16 small, adjacent systems that span a wide range of environmental and biotic conditions, yellow perch were sampled with a standard suite of gear. Water quality, morphometry, vegetation, invertebrates and fish communities were concurrently measured. Multimodel inference was used to prioritise regressors for the entire yellow perch sample and three size groups (35-80, 81-180, ???181 mm TL). Across systems, pH and fish richness were identified as the key drivers of yellow perch abundance. At very low pH (<4.0), few fish species and few yellow perch individuals were found. At ponds with moderately low pH (4.0-4.8), numbers of yellow perch increased. Ponds with high pH (>4.8) had many other species and few yellow perch. Similar patterns for pH and fish community were observed for the two largest-size classes. Negative interactions were observed between the medium- and large-sized yellow perch and between the largest and smallest yellow perch, although interspecific interactions were weaker than expected. This examination of variability for an indicator species and its component-size classes provides ecological understanding that can help frame the larger-scale sampling programs needed for the conservation of freshwater fish. ?? 2008 Blackwell Munksgaard.
Additional Publication Details
Identifying across-system sources of variation in a generalist freshwater fish: Correlates of total and size-specific abundance of yellow perch