The importance of context dependency for understanding the effects of low flow events on fish

Freshwater Science



The natural hydrology of streams and rivers has been extensively altered by dam construction, water diversion, and climate change. An increased frequency of low-flow events will affect fish by changing habitat availability, resource availability, and reproductive cues. I reviewed the literature to characterize the approaches taken to assess low-flow events and fish, the main effects of low-flow events on fish, and the associated mechanistic drivers. Most studies are focused on temperate streams and are comparative in nature. Decreased stream flow is associated with decreased survival, growth, and abundance of fish populations and shifts in community composition, but effects are variable. This variability in effects is probably caused by context dependence. I propose 3 main sources of context dependence that drive the variation in fish responses to low-flow events: attributes of the low-flow event, attributes of the habitat, and attributes of the fish. Awareness of these sources of context dependence can help managers interpret and explain data, predict vulnerability of fish communities, and prioritize appropriate management actions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The importance of context dependency for understanding the effects of low flow events on fish
Series title Freshwater Science
DOI 10.1086/683831
Volume 35
Issue 1
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher University of Chicago
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 12 p.
First page 216
Last page 228
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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