Preprint Article Version 1 NOT YET PEER-REVIEWED

Influences of Multiscale Land Cover Characteristics and Specific Conductivity on Fish Assemblages in the Nolichucky River Watershed, Tennessee

Version 1 : Received: 16 February 2017 / Approved: 17 February 2017 / Online: 17 February 2017 (07:33:16 CET)

How to cite: Gotwald, H.; Alford, J. Influences of Multiscale Land Cover Characteristics and Specific Conductivity on Fish Assemblages in the Nolichucky River Watershed, Tennessee. Preprints 2017, 2017020067 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201702.0067.v1). Gotwald, H.; Alford, J. Influences of Multiscale Land Cover Characteristics and Specific Conductivity on Fish Assemblages in the Nolichucky River Watershed, Tennessee. Preprints 2017, 2017020067 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201702.0067.v1).

Abstract

We evaluated the potential of using fish species and functional traits as indicators of land use impacts to fish assemblages. We used environmental data collected at multiple spatial scales (local, reach, and upstream catchment) for 19 tributary and main stem sites in the Nolichucky River watershed in Tennessee. Canonical correspondence analyses showed that temperature, elevation, specific conductivity, sediment yield, impervious surfaces, and row crop cover at the catchment scale were strongly associated with fish assemblage structure, as well as forest cover from all three spatial scales. Blocked indicator species analysis, with stream size as the block, showed that significantly strong indicators of the least-impacted riparian land use condition (≥60% forest cover) were Saffron Shiner (Notropis rubricroceus), Rainbow Trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss), Longnose Dace (Rhynichthys cataractae), Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus), and Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi). Traits indicative of the least-impacted sites were the herbivorous trophic guild, mean female age-at-maturity, longevity, rock-gravel spawners, montane geology and pelagic swimmers. Specific conductivity was strongly related to multiple catchment-scale land use variables, and was a strong local-scale influence on fish assemblage structure. Our results show promise for using a relatively common but endemic southern Appalachian fish species, the Saffron Shiner, as an indicator for land-use related impacts to these streams.

Subject Areas

spatial scale; CCA; indicator species analysis; land use; SWAT; bioassessment

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