, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 283-292
Date: 03 Mar 2014

Spatial variation in relative abundance of a widespread, numerically dominant fish species and its effect on fish assemblage structure

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Collections of fish assemblages from streams in the midwestern United States were used to examine assemblage-level effects of spatial variation in relative abundance of the red shiner, Cyprinella lutrensis, a widespread and highly abundant minnow species. This species has been widely introduced outside its native range and is suspected to have impacted local assemblages where it has become established. Given its overall dominance of midwest fish assemblages, and its suspected impact on assemblage structure, we asked if structure of the residual fish assemblages (red shiners excluded) was a function of the relative abundance of red shiners throughout the native range of C. lutrensis in the USA. Although red shiner ranked first in abundance in half of the assemblages and numerically dominated 28% of the assemblages, red shiner relative abundance in an assemblage had no detectable effect on richness, diversity, evenness, or complexity of other (residual) species in the assemblage. Relative abundance of red shiners did have a positive effect on the abundance of benthic minnows in the residual assemblage, but not on water column minnows that are ecologically most like red shiners. Environmental factors did not explain a significant amount of the variation in relative abundance of red shiners, but did explain some variation in residual assemblage structure. Although widespread and numerically dominant at many localities, red shiners do not appear to have a strong impact on local fish assemblage structure within their native range. This is in sharp contrast to the reported negative effects of red shiners on fish assemblages where they have been introduced outside their native range.

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