Water quality, physical habitat, and fisheries at sixteen reaches in the Neversink River Basin were studied during 1991-95 to identify the effects of acidic precipitation on stream-water chemistry and on selected fish-species populations, and to test the hypothesis that the degree of stream acidification affected the spatial distribution of each fish-species population. Most sites on the East Branch Neversink were strongly to severely acidified, whereas most sites on the West Branch were minimally to moderately acidified. Mean density of fish populations ranged from 0 to 2.15 fish/m2; biomass ranged from 0 to 17.5 g/m2. Where brook trout were present, their population density ranged from 0.04 to 1.09 fish/m2, biomass ranged from 0.76 to 12.2 g/m2, and condition (K) ranged from 0.94 to 1.07. Regression analyses revealed strong relations (r2 ?? 0.41 to 0.99; p ??? 0.05) between characteristics of the two most common species (brook trout and slimy sculpin) populations and mean concentrations of inorganic monomeric aluminum (Alim), pH, Si, K+, NO3/-, NH4/+, DOC, Ca2+, and Na+; acid neutralizing capacity (ANC); and water temperature. Stream acidification may have adversely affected fish populations at most East Branch sites, but in other parts of the Neversink River Basin these effects were masked or mitigated by other physical habitat, geochemical, and biological factors.
Additional publication details
Effects of stream acidification and habitat on fish populations of a North American river