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Invasives, Introductions and Acidification: The Dynamics of a Stressed River Fish Community

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Abstract

We describe the development of the fish community in the acidified and limed river Litleåna in southern Norway, and describe how chemical restoration, compensatory introductions of exotics, and accidental invasion of exotics interact to influence the population of the naturally occurring brown trout (Salmo trutta). The river Litleåna is a tributary to the river Kvina in Vest-Agder County, southern Norway. During the years 1996–2004, annual mean pH was 4.9–5.0 and 6.1–6.4 above and below the liming facility, which was installed in 1994. Originally, brown trout was the only fish species in the river, but brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) have been intentionally introduced, whereas European minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) was introduced by accident. Fish densities were recorded by means of electrofishing annually over the ten year period 1995–2004. Although close to extinction before liming was initiated, brown trout fry densities increased from 1995 to 1999, with subsequent varying densities. There has been a simultaneous major increase in the occurrence and density of European minnow since 1997. Our results show that both brown trout and European minnow increase after liming. Minnow densities are negatively affected by low pH episodes in the river. The growth rates of brown trout fry are negatively correlated to minnow densities, indicating competition between the species. Brook trout densities have decreased since liming started, and during the brown trout recovery.

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Correspondence to Bjørn Mejdell Larsen.

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Larsen, B.M., Sandlund, O.T., Berger, H.M. et al. Invasives, Introductions and Acidification: The Dynamics of a Stressed River Fish Community. Water Air Soil Pollut: Focus 7, 285–291 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11267-006-9073-y

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Keywords

  • brown trout
  • European minnow
  • brook trout
  • introduction
  • acidification
  • liming