Are Toronto’s streams sick? A look at the fish and benthic invertebrate communities in the Toronto region in relation to the urban stream syndrome
- 837 Downloads
Impacts of urbanization on aquatic ecosystems are intensifying as urban sprawl spreads across the global land base. The urban stream syndrome (USS) identifies “symptoms” associated with urban development including changes in biotic communities, hydrology, water chemistry, and channel morphology. Direct relationships between road density (as surrogate of urbanization) and indicators of the USS were identified for streams in the Toronto region. Significant negative relationships were revealed between road density and biological (fish and benthic macroinvertebrate) richness, diversity, and fish Index of Biotic Integrity scores. Significant positive relationships were found between road density and tolerant fish/benthic macroinvertbrates, benthos Family Biotic Index scores, mean summer stream temperature, stream flashiness, and several water quality variables. Analysis of biological data showed that only four fish species and a reduced number of benthic macroinvertebrate families remained at the most urbanized sites. Road density was found to be a major determinant in both the fish and benthic macroinvertebrate community structure.
KeywordsRoad density Urbanization Benthic invertebrates Fish Urban stream syndrome
We would like to thank the many TRCA field crews/technicians involved in this project over the past decade as well as Jamie Duncan and David Lawrie for providing data and advice and Jason Tam for his extensive GIS work. Special thanks to Dr. Keith Somers, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, for his statistics advice. We also acknowledge Scott Jarvie, Deborah Martin-Downs, Christine Tu, Jordan Rosenfeld (BC Ministry of the Environment), and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
- Baker, D. B. (1989). Fluvial transport and processing of sediment and nutrients in large agricultural river basins. Lake Erie Wastewater Management Study Technical Report Series. Buffalo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.Google Scholar
- Bazinet, N. L., Gilbert, B. M., & Wallace, A. M. (2010). A comparison of urbanization effects on stream benthic macroinvertebrates and water chemistry in an urban and an urbanizing basin in Southern Ontario. Canada Water Qual Res J Canada, 45(3), 327–341.Google Scholar
- Bode, R. W., Novak, M. A., & Abele, L. E. (1996). Quality assurance work plan for biological stream monitoring in New York State. Albany: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.Google Scholar
- Booth, D. B. (1991). Urbanization and the natural drainage systems—impacts, solutions and prognosis. Northwest Environ, 7, 93–118.Google Scholar
- Booth, D. B. (2005). Challenges and prospects for restoring urban streams, a perspective from the Pacific Northwest of North America. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 24, 724–737.Google Scholar
- Brown, L.R., Burton, C.A., & Belitz, K. (2005). Aquatic assemblages of the highly urbanized Santa Ana River basin, California. In: Effects of urbanization on stream Ecosystems, American Fisheries Society Symposium 47, Bethesda, MD. pp 263–287.Google Scholar
- Campbell, E. (1863). Census of the Canadas 1860–1861: personal census volume 1. Available at http://datalib.chass.utoronto.ca/major/censusag.htm. Accessed 15 January 2012.
- Carnefix, G., & Frissell, C. (2009). Aquatic and other environmental impacts of roads: the case for road density as indicator of human disturbance and road-density reduction as restoration target. Pacific Rivers Council Science Publication 09-001. Pacific Rivers Council, Portland, ORGoogle Scholar
- Chapman, L., & Putnam, D. (1984). The physiography of Southern Ontario (3rd edn.), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto, ON.Google Scholar
- Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). (2010). Low impact development stormwater management planning and design guide. Toronto: ON.Google Scholar
- Eyles, N. (2002). Ontario rocks: three billion years of environmental change. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Ltd.Google Scholar
- Hayes, D. (2008). Historical atlas of Toronto. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre Ltd.Google Scholar
- Jones, C., Somers, K. M., Craig, B., & Reynoldson, T. B. (2005). Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network protocol manual. Dorset: Ontario Ministry of Environment.Google Scholar
- Kersey, K. & Mackay, R.J. (1981). Laboratory and field studies on the effects of road de-icing salt on stream invertebrates SIC-9. Snow and Ice Control Working Group, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.Google Scholar
- Konrad, C. P., & Booth, D. B. (2005). Hydrologic changes in urban streams and their ecological significance. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 47, 157–177.Google Scholar
- Korman, J., Kaplinski, M., & Melis, T. S. (2011). Effects of fluctuating flows and a controlled flood on incubation success and early survival rates and growth of age-0 rainbow trout in a large regulated river. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 140, 487–505. doi: 10.1080/00028487.2011.572015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Martin-Downs, D. (1988). Don River biological inventory: past, present and future evaluation. Metro Toronto & Region Conservation Authority. Technical Report #16. April 1998.Google Scholar
- Meyer, J. L., Paul, M. J., & Taulbee, W. K. (2005). Stream ecosystem function in urbanizing landscapes. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 24, 602–612.Google Scholar
- Nelson, J. A., Gotwalt, P. S., Simonetti, C. A., & Snodgrass, J. W. (2008). Environmental correlates, plasticity, and repeatability of differences in performance among Blacknose Dace (Rhinichthys atratulus) populations across a gradient of urbanization. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 81(1), 25–42. doi: 10.1086/523304.fm.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rahel, F. J., & Hubert, W. A. (1991). Fish assemblages and habitat gradients in a Rocky Mountain–Great Plains stream: Biotic zonation and additive patterns of community change. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 120, 319–332. doi: 10.1577/1548-8659(1991) 120<0319:FAAHGI>2.3.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Robert, A. (2003). River processes: an introduction to fluvial dynamics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Roy, A. H., Freeman, M. C., Freeman, B. J., Wenger, J. S., Ensign, W. E., & Meyer, J. L. (2005). Investigating hydrologic alteration as a mechanism of fish assemblage shifts in urbanizing streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 24, 656–678.Google Scholar
- Skoglund, H., Einum, S., Forseth, T., & Barlaup, B. T. (2011). Phenotypic plasticity in physiological status at emergence from nests as a response to temperature in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 68, 1470–1479. doi: 10.1139/F2011-056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Stanfield, L. W., & Kilgour, B. W. (2006). Effects of percent impervious cover on fish and benthos assemblages and instream habitats in Lake Ontario tributaries. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 48, 577–599.Google Scholar
- Stanfield, L., Jones, M., Stoneman, M., Kilgour, B., Parish, J., & Wichert, G. (2001). Stream assessment protocol for Southern Ontario. Picton: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.Google Scholar
- ter Braak, C. J. F., & Smilauer, P. (1998). CANOCO reference manual and user’s guide to Canoco for Windows—Software for canonical community ordination (version 4). Ithaca: Microcomputer Power.Google Scholar
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). (1994). Forty steps to a new Don: The report of the Don Watershed Task Force. Toronto, ON. Available at http://www.trca.on.ca/dotAsset/95621.pdf. Accessed 17 January 2012.
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). (2011a). Updated assessment report: Toronto and Region source protection area. Toronto, ON. Available at http://www.ctcswp.ca/Assessment-Report/assessment-report.html. Accessed 10 February 2012.
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). (2011b). The Living City Report Card 2011: An assessment of the environmental health of the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto, ON. http://www.thelivingcity.org/lcrc4/ Accessed 23 March 2012.
- Walsh, C. J., Roy, A. H., Feminella, J. W., Cottingham, P. D., Groffman, P. M., & Morgan, R. P. (2005). The urban stream syndrome: current knowledge and search for a cure. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 24(3), 706–723.Google Scholar
- Zandbergen, P. (1998). Urban watershed assessment: linking watershed health indicators to management. Ph.D. thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.Google Scholar