, Volume 127, Issue 4, pp 572-585

Spatial isolation and fish communities in drainage lakes

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Fifty-two drainage lakes, located in south-central Ontario, Canada, were examined to study the association of isolation- and environment-related factors with fish community composition. Eight quantitative measures of lake isolation were examined, each of which incorporated potential ecological "challenges" that a fish encounters when moving between lakes. A Procrustean approach was employed to assess the degree of concordance between fish assemblage structure, measures of lake isolation and environmental conditions (i.e., lake morphology and water chemistry). Our results revealed a high concordance between patterns in fish community composition and lake isolation and lake morphology at the watershed scale, suggesting that insular and habitat-related factors influence the structure of fish communities. At the scale of the individual lake, this relationship varied greatly, ranging from a strong match of community composition with both spatial and abiotic conditions to communities exhibiting weak association with these conditions. Furthermore, we showed that alternative measures of lake isolation provide additional insight into potential factors shaping patterns in fish community composition; information not provided using straight-line distances between lakes. Finally, the statistical methodology outlined in this paper provides a robust technique for assessing both the overall association between multivariate data matrices (i.e., landscape or regional scale), as well as facilitating the examination of smaller-scale relationships of individual observations (i.e., local scale).

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