Environmental Management

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 661–671 | Cite as

Assemblage stability in stream fishes: A review

  • Gary D. Grossman
  • John F. Dowd
  • Maurice Crawford
Section 3: The Problem Of Spatial-Temporal Variability


We quantified the stability of nine stream fish assemblages by calculating coefficients of variation of population size for assemblage members. Coefficients of variation were high and averaged over 96%; indicating that most assemblages were quite variable. Coefficient of variation (CV) estimates were not significantly affected by: (1) years of study, (2) mean abundance, (3) familial classification, or (4) mean interval between collections. We also detected minor regional differences in CVs. The high variability exhibited by many stream fish assemblages suggests that it may be difficult to detect the effects of anthropogenic disturbances using population data alone. Consequently, we urge managers to exercise caution in the evaluation of the effects of these disturbances. More long-term studies of the ecological characteristics of undisturbed stream fish assemblages are needed to provide a benchmark against which disturbed systems can be compared.

We suggest that CVs are a better estimator of population/assemblage stability, than either Kendall's W or the standard deviation of the logarithms of numerical censuses. This conclusion is based on the following reasons. First, CVs scale population variation by the mean and, hence, more accurately measure population variability. Second, this scaling permits the comparison of populations with different mean abundances. Finally, the interpretation of CV values is less ambiguous than either of the aforementioned metrics.

Key words

Community Structure Assemblage structure Assemblage stability Community stability Population variability Stream fishes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary D. Grossman
    • 1
  • John F. Dowd
    • 1
  • Maurice Crawford
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Forest ResourcesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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