Relationships between hydrology, spatial heterogeneity, and fish recruitment dynamics in a temperate floodplain river
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Fish populations in the Brazos River, Texas, were surveyed monthly for 2 years to determine the relative influence of hydrology and habitat characteristics on the recruitment dynamics of seven species representing three divergent life history strategies. Surveys were conducted in two oxbow lakes with different flood recurrence intervals and the main river channel. The first year was relatively dry with few oxbow-river connections, whereas year 2 was relatively wet and connections between the main channel and floodplain habitats were common. Oxbow lakes supported greater juvenile abundances of most species relative to the main channel and were particularly important for nest building species with parental care. The river channel supported small species with extended reproductive periods and large, long-lived species that are able to store reproductive potential during sub-optimal periods. Hydrologic isolation was associated with greater rotifer densities in oxbows, and species with the greatest fecundity produced strong year classes during this period. Hydrologic connectivity did not increase juvenile production for most species, suggesting that recruitment dynamics in the Brazos River are similar to predictions of the low flow recruitment hypothesis (LFR). These results suggest that both hydrology and habitat heterogeneity interact with fish life history strategy to determine optimal conditions for recruitment and all three factors must be considered in restoration strategies for floodplain rivers. Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
RIVER RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS
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Zeug, S. C., & Winemiller, K. O.
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