, Volume 693, Issue 1, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Fish assemblage structure in urban streams of Puerto Rico: the importance of reach- and catchment-scale abiotic factors

  • Augustin C. EngmanEmail author
  • Alonso Ramírez
Primary Research Paper


Channelization and urbanization are anthropogenic alterations that act on the reach- and catchment-scale, respectively, to degrade stream habitats. As urban areas continue to expand in the tropics the number of channelized streams will likely increase as well. We examined in-stream habitat and fish assemblage structure in stream reaches with a range of channel alterations and sub-catchment urban land use in the Río Piedras watershed, Puerto Rico. Nine reaches were surveyed and classified into three categories: unaltered channels (natural), channels that had been straightened and may have reinforced banks (intermediate), or channels where the bank and bottom was replaced with concrete (concrete-channelized). Fishes were sampled using triple-pass electrofishing and relevant reach- and catchment-scale abiotic environmental variables were measured for each site. Fish assemblage structure in the Río Piedras appears to be influenced by both reach- and catchment-scale abiotic environmental factors. Natural and intermediate reaches with moderately high levels of sub-catchment urbanization had relatively high biomass, species-rich, and native-dominated fish assemblages whereas concrete-channelized reaches with very highly urbanized sub-catchments had fish assemblages with few to no native species and highly abundant, tolerant, and exotic species.


Channelization Fish assemblage In-stream habitat Urban Tropical Island 



The comments on our study design and methods training provided by Patrick Cooney and Will Smith greatly improved this project. Diana Martinó and Keysa Rosas were extremely helpful during the fieldwork portion of the study. Rebeca De Jesús-Crespo’s digitizations were used for classifying land use. Comments from Matt Whiles, Jorge Ortiz, and Alberto Sabat improved our manuscript. Finally, a preliminary study by Martin Perales provided important information that was used in the design of this study. Support for this research was obtained from the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program, a GK-12 Fellowship and the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies at the University of Puerto Rico.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Tropical Ecosystem StudiesUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA

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