Variation in large-bodied fish-community structure and abundance in relation to water-management regime in a large regulated river

  • Haxton T
  • Findlay C
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Abstract

Variation in life-history traits (growth, condition, mortality and recruitment) and relative abundance of 11 large-bodied fish species was investigated among three water-management regimes (unimpounded, run-of-the-river and winter reservoirs) in the large regulated Ottawa River, Canada. If waterpower management had an effect on fishes, then (1) would be expected community structuring among water-management regimes and (2) species with similar life-history traits should be affected in a similar manner. Large-bodied fish communities were assessed using two different standard index-netting techniques, one using trap nets and the other gillnets. Community structure could be discriminated based on species caught in nets using holographic neural networks (78.8% correct overall classification rate using trap nets and 76.0% using gillnets); therefore, water-management regimes affected community structure in the Ottawa River. Littoral zone benthivores were significantly lower in abundance (P < 0.001) or absent in winter reservoirs, whereas the abundance of planktivores or species that were planktivorous at young ages were significantly greater than in unimpounded river reaches. Growth, condition and mortality did not vary among reach types except smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu were in better condition in winter reservoirs than unimpounded reaches. Lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens recruitment was impaired in run-of-the-river reaches, whereas recruitment for other species that spawn in fast water was not affected.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Holographic neural networks
  • Lake sturgeon

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