, Volume 572, Issue 1, pp 59-70
Date: 23 Aug 2006

Local stream habitat variables predicted from catchment scale characteristics are useful for predicting fish distribution

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Abstract

South-east Queensland (Australia) streams were described by 21 local habitat variables that were chosen because of their potential association with fish distribution. An Assessment by a Nearest Neighbour Analysis (ANNA) model used large-scale variables that are robust to human influence to predict what the values of each of the 21 local habitat variables at each site would be without modification from human activity. The ANNA model used elevation, stream order, distance from source and longitude to predict the local habitat variables; other candidate predictor variables (mean rainfall, latitude and catchment area) were not found to be useful. The ANNA model was able to predict five of the 21 local habitat variables (average width, sand (%), cobble (%), rocks (%) and large woody debris) with an R 2 of at least 0.2. The observed values of these five local habitat variables were used to model the distributions of individual fish species. The species distribution models were developed using logistic regression based on a subset of the data (some of the data were withheld for model validation) and a forward stepwise model selection procedure. There was no difference in predictive performance of fish distribution models for model predictions based on observed values and model predictions based on ANNA predicted values of local habitat variables in the withheld data (p-value = 0.85). Therefore, it is possible to predict the suitability of sites as habitat for given fish species using estimated (estimates based on large-scale variables) natural values of local habitat variables.