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River fish assemblages in relation to environmental factors in the eastern extremity of Europe (Tatarstan Republic, Russia)

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Abstract

Fish assemblages and environmental variables were studied in 245 sites in small and mid-sized rivers of the Tatarstan Republic. The basic aim of this investigation was to model the habitat requirements of the 26 most common freshwater fish species at the eastern edge of Europe since the spatial variation of the assemblages of these fish species is little understood there. The impact of environmental factors on species distribution using both presence-absence and abundance data was analyzed with regression methods and ordination methods, which are widely used by European ichthyologists elsewhere. Ordination analysis demonstrated an upstream-downstream gradient of the fish assemblages. Regression analysis indicated that basic predictors of species preference were elevation and “size” of river. For the first time in Eastern Europe, optimum points and niche breadth for fish species along basic environmental gradients were estimated. Niche breadth (tolerance) was highly variable between species. Generally, estimated relationships between environmental factors and the probability of fish presence and abundance were consistent with known fish ecology.

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Acknowledgments

Many thanks go to Carol Barker, Olga Butorina and to professor Tim Sparks for English revision of the manuscript. Our special thanks to N.A. Chizhikova for consultation on statistical analysis. We thank the editor and two unknown referees for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We declare that the fish were caught under a survey permit of the Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries.

Author’s contributions

OA performed the field and laboratory work and wrote the manuscript with assistance from IA and AA. OA and AA conducted the data analyses. IA, AA, SM and NY organized the logistics for the fieldwork, participated in the collection of data and helped to draft the manuscript. OA coordinated and supervised the study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Oleg Askeyev.

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Askeyev, O., Askeyev, I., Askeyev, A. et al. River fish assemblages in relation to environmental factors in the eastern extremity of Europe (Tatarstan Republic, Russia). Environ Biol Fish 98, 1277–1293 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-014-0358-0

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