Landscape-scale drivers of fish faunal homogenization and differentiation in the eastern United States

Abstract

Establishment of nonnative fishes and extirpations of native fishes have homogenized freshwater fish faunas, yet our understanding of the drivers of this process remain limited. We addressed this knowledge gap by testing three hypotheses about introductions and homogenization of fish communities is the eastern United States: First, whether nonnative fish introductions have caused fish faunas to become homogenized or differentiated; second, whether patterns of faunal change are related to native species richness, propagule pressure, and anthropogenic disturbance; third, whether invasion patterns are attributable to either biotic resistance or preadaptation. We compared taxonomic similarity among watersheds in historical and contemporary time steps, and modeled contributions of different drivers to faunal change within watersheds. Average similarity among watersheds nearly doubled in contemporary times, pointing to substantial fish faunal homogenization. No watersheds lost species; patterns of homogenization are attributable entirely to nonnative species invasion. Community change and nonnative richness were positively associated with agriculture-urban land use, recreational fishing demand, and elevation. Native richness negatively affected community change and nonnative richness. Nonnative species originated from watersheds with higher richness than the ones they invaded, suggesting a role for biotic resistance. Understanding how mechanisms operate across spatial scales will help guide future conservation efforts.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the numerous agency and university employees who facilitated access to species occurrences. Comments by two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. This article represents Technical Contribution Number 6814 of the Clemson University Experiment Station.

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Correspondence to Brandon K. Peoples.

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Peoples, B.K., Davis, A.J.S., Midway, S.R. et al. Landscape-scale drivers of fish faunal homogenization and differentiation in the eastern United States. Hydrobiologia 847, 3727–3741 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04162-4

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Keywords

  • Stream
  • Species introductions
  • Biotic resistance
  • Propagule pressure
  • Freshwater
  • Nonnative species
  • Watersheds