We examined the recovery of a fish assemblage following the catastrophic spill of highly alkaline (pH ~13) red sludge into a lowland river (i) to characterize taxonomic- and trait-based colonization of fishes in the river in the first 3 years of the recovery and (ii) to determine which structural- and trait-based variables best predicted colonization. Species richness showed comparable values to pre-disturbance state <1 year after the spill. We found only moderate changes in the dominance of the most abundant species between pre- and post-disturbance periods, and consistent changes in the relative abundance of some rare species during the post-disturbance period. Frequency of occurrence (%) of the fishes in the watershed and their relative abundance (%) proved to be the most important predictor variables in colonization, whereas trait-based variables had a less important role. Our study about one of the largest scale and most serious documented fish kill shows that both taxonomic- and trait-based structure of fish assemblages can regenerate remarkably fast in a modified river and also shows that unfortunate chemical spills provide insights into the assembly of stream fish assemblages.
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This work was supported by the OTKA K104279 Grant and the Bolyai János Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Tibor Erős). We thank Anna Dolezsai, Árpád Ferincz, Mónika Tóth, Zoltán Vitál, and numerous other people for their help in the field work.
Handling editor: Judit Padisák
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Erős, T., Takács, P., Czeglédi, I. et al. Taxonomic- and trait-based recolonization dynamics of a riverine fish assemblage following a large-scale human-mediated disturbance: the red mud disaster in Hungary. Hydrobiologia 758, 31–45 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-015-2262-9