Relationships between environmental variability and movement are poorly understood, due to both their complexity and the limited ecological scope of most movement studies. We studied movements of fantail (Etheostoma flabellare), riverweed (E. podostemone), and Roanoke darters (Percina roanoka) through two stream systems during two summers. We then related movement to variability in measured habitat attributes using logistic regression and exploratory data plots. We indexed habitat conditions at both microhabitat (i.e., patches of uniform depth, velocity, and substrate) and mesohabitat (i.e., riffle and pool channel units) spatial scales, and determined how local habitat conditions were affected by landscape spatial (i.e., longitudinal position, land use) and temporal contexts. Most spatial variability in habitat conditions and fish movement was unexplained by a site's location on the landscape. Exceptions were microhabitat diversity, which was greater in the less-disturbed watershed, and riffle isolation and predator density in pools, which were greater at more-downstream sites. Habitat conditions and movement also exhibited only minor temporal variability, but the relative influences of habitat attributes on movement were quite variable over time. During the first year, movements of fantail and riverweed darters were triggered predominantly by loss of shallow microhabitats; whereas, during the second year, microhabitat diversity was more strongly related (though in opposite directions) to movement of these two species. Roanoke darters did not move in response to microhabitat-scale variables, presumably because of the species' preference for deeper microhabitats that changed little over time. Conversely, movement of all species appeared to be constrained by riffle isolation and predator density in pools, two mesohabitat-scale attributes. Relationships between environmental variability and movement depended on both the spatiotemporal scale of consideration and the ecology of the species. Future studies that integrate across scales, taxa, and life-histories are likely to provide greater insight into movement ecology than will traditional, single-season, single-species approaches. ?? 2006 Springer-Verlag.
Additional publication details
Spatiotemporal variability of stream habitat and movement of three species of fish