Fluvial fishes face increased imperilment from anthropogenic activities, but the specific factors contributing most to range declines are often poorly understood. For example, the range of the fluvial‐specialist shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae) continues to decrease, yet how perceived threats have contributed to range loss is largely unknown. We used species distribution models to determine which factors contributed most to shoal bass range loss. We estimated a potential distribution based on natural abiotic factors and a series of currently occupied distributions that incorporated variables characterizing land cover, non‐native species, and river fragmentation intensity (no fragmentation, dams only, and dams and large impoundments). We allowed interspecific relationships between non‐native congeners and shoal bass to vary across fragmentation intensities. Results from the potential distribution model estimated shoal bass presence throughout much of their native basin, whereas models of currently occupied distribution showed that range loss increased as fragmentation intensified. Response curves from models of currently occupied distribution indicated a potential interaction between fragmentation intensity and the relationship between shoal bass and non‐native congeners, wherein non‐natives may be favored at the highest fragmentation intensity. Response curves also suggested that >100 km of interconnected, free‐flowing stream fragments were necessary to support shoal bass presence. Model evaluation, including an independent validation, suggested that models had favorable predictive and discriminative abilities. Similar approaches that use readily available, diverse, geospatial data sets may deliver insights into the biology and conservation needs of other fluvial species facing similar threats.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Examining fluvial fish range loss with SDMs|
|Series title||Conservation Biology|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Atlanta|