Seventy years of stream‐fish collections reveal invasions and native range contractions in an Appalachian (USA) watershed

Diversity and Distributions
By: , and 

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Abstract

Aim

Knowledge of expanding and contracting ranges is critical for monitoring invasions and assessing conservation status, yet reliable data on distributional trends are lacking for most freshwater species. We developed a quantitative technique to detect the sign (expansion or contraction) and functional form of range‐size changes for freshwater species based on collections data, while accounting for possible biases due to variable collection effort. We applied this technique to quantify stream‐fish range expansions and contractions in a highly invaded river system.

Location

Upper and middle New River (UMNR) basin, Appalachian Mountains, USA.

Methods

We compiled a 77‐year stream‐fish collections dataset partitioned into ten time periods. To account for variable collection effort among time periods, we aggregated the collections into 100 watersheds and expressed a species’ range size as detections per watershed (HUC) sampled (DPHS). We regressed DPHS against time by species and used an information‐theoretic approach to compare linear and nonlinear functional forms fitted to the data points and to classify each species as spreader, stable or decliner.

Results

We analysed changes in range size for 74 UMNR fishes, including 35 native and 39 established introduced species. We classified the majority (51%) of introduced species as spreaders, compared to 31% of natives. An exponential functional form fits best for 84% of spreaders. Three natives were among the most rapid spreaders. All four decliners were New River natives.

Main conclusions

Our DPHS‐based approach facilitated quantitative analyses of distributional trends for stream fishes based on collections data. Partitioning the dataset into multiple time periods allowed us to distinguish long‐term trends from population fluctuations and to examine nonlinear forms of spread. Our framework sets the stage for further study of drivers of stream‐fish invasions and declines in the UMNR and is widely transferable to other freshwater taxa and geographic regions.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seventy years of stream‐fish collections reveal invasions and native range contractions in an Appalachian (USA) watershed
Series title Diversity and Distributions
DOI 10.1111/ddi.12671
Volume 24
Issue 2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 24 p.
First page 219
Last page 232
Country United States
State North Carolina, Virginia
Other Geospatial New River
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