Conservation biogeography of lotic fishes in the Missouri and Colorado River basins
To improve our understanding of lotic fish ecology and improve conservation efforts, I 1) identified potentially ecologically important tributaries (PEITs) and evaluated their effects on fish assemble structure, 2) evaluated factors affecting spatial transferability of species distribution models (SDMs), and 3) evaluated the drivers of non-native fish establishment in the Missouri and Colorado River basins (MRB and CRB). The effects of PEIT likely vary among rivers as all Missouri River PEITs affected fish assemblage structure, but only half of upper Colorado River basin PEITs affected fish assemblage structure. Species distribution models transferred from the MRB to the CRB for 15 of 25 species, but transferability was not predictable based on species characteristics, re-enforcing the hypothesis that transferability is species-and contextspecific. Support for Human Activity, Biotic Resistance and Biotic Acceptance hypotheses as the drivers of non-native fish establishment varied by family, but these hypotheses rarely explained significant variability in the probability of non-native Salmonidae, Catostomidae, and Cyprinidae occurrence. These results may suggest that other factors (e.g., natural factors) drive non-native species distributions at the spatial (i.e., grain-stream segment; extents-physiographic divisions, and MRB and CRB combined) and taxonomic (i.e., family) scales considered in this study. This study aids conservations efforts by providing an efficient approach for identifying ecologically important tributaries and improving predictions of non-native species establishment.
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