A quarter century of change in the fish communities of three small streams modified by anthropogenic activities

  • Dean G. Fitzgerald
  • Ed Kott
  • Roman P. Lanno
  • D. George Dixon


Anthropogenic modification of small stream habitats insouthern Ontario has occurred with little concern forindigenous, non-game fish communities. The combinedeffects of urbanization, impoundment, and agricultureon the fish communities of three small streams, fromheadwaters to near-confluence locations, wereevaluated by comparing current fish communitystructure to historical records (species lists)collected over the last quarter century. Comparisonsusing cluster analysis showed that spatial andtemporal shifts in fish community composition did notoccur immediately after stream modifications but tookup to 10 years. Replacement of common species byformerly rare or absent species was evident in twostreams subjected to urbanization and impoundment;stream sections subjected to primarily agriculture land usedemonstrated minimal change during this study period. Urban zones and sections downstream of impoundmentswere dominated by species tolerant of controlledflows, siltation, channelization, homogenous spawningsubstrates, and elevated temperatures. Barrier-freeheadwater and agriculture zones with abundant riparianvegetation supported communities that were intolerantof controlled flows, dependent on lower summer watertemperatures, and require high dissolved oxygenlevels. Greater understanding of the causative forcesshaping fish communities can be used to facilitateintegration of greater biological realism into anyfuture conservation or restoration programs inanthropogenically-modified streams.

agriculture assessment conservation fish community stream reservoir urbanization 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bardarik, D.G., 1965. Distribution and composition of fish communities in a polluted and unpolluted stream in the upper Ohio River basin. In: C.A. Tyron, R.T. Hartman & K.W. Cummins (eds), Studies on the Aquatic Ecology of the Upper Ohio River System, Special Publication No. 3. pp. 79–94. Pyamuntung Laboratory of Ecology, University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
  2. Barling, R.D. & I.D. Moore, 1994. Role of buffer strips in management of waterway pollution: A review. Env. Manag. 18: 543–558.Google Scholar
  3. Benke, A.C., 1990. A perspective on America’s vanishing streams. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 9: 77–88.Google Scholar
  4. Carey, J.H., M.E. Fox, B.G. Brownlee, J.L. Metcalfe, P.D. Mason & W.H. Yerex, 1983. The Fate and Effects of Contaminants in Canagagigue Creek 1. Stream Ecology and Identification of Major Contaminants. National Waters Research Institute, Inland Waters Directorate, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington, ON, Scientific Series No. 135.Google Scholar
  5. Connell, J.H. & W.P. Sousa, 1983. On the evidence needed to judge ecological stability or persistence. Am. Nat. 121: 789–824.Google Scholar
  6. COSEWIC (Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada), 1997. Rare and endangered fishes and marine mammals of Canada: COSEWIC fish and marine mammal subcommittee status reports XI. Can. Field Nat. 111: 249–257.Google Scholar
  7. Cox, J., C. Hendrickson, I. Skelton & R. Suffling, 1996. Watershed planning for urbanization to avoid undesirable stream outcomes. Can. Water Res. J. 21: 237–251.Google Scholar
  8. Crysler, Davis & Orgensen, Ltd., Consulting Engineers, 1961. Grand Valley Conservation Authority Canagagigue Creek Study. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  9. Crysler & Latherm, Consulting Engineers, 1971. Woolwich Dam–Functional Design Study. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  10. Dance, K.W. & H.B.N. Hynes, 1980. Some effects of agriculture land use on stream insect communities. Env. Poll. 22A: 19–28.Google Scholar
  11. Dance, K.W., H.B.N. Hynes & N.K. Kaushik, 1979. Seasonal drift of solid organic matter in two adjacent streams. Arch. Hydrobiol. 87: 139–151.Google Scholar
  12. Fitzgerald, D.G. 1996. Evaluation of Fish in Anthropogenically-Modified Streams within the Grand River Watershed, Ontario. M.Sc. thesis, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo. 132 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Francis, G., 1996. Issues of sustainability for an urbanizing watershed. J. Can. Water Res. J. 21: 193–199.Google Scholar
  14. Garie, H.L. & A. McIntosh, 1986. Distribution of benthic macroinvertebrates in a stream exposed to urban runoff. Wat. Res. Bull. 22: 447–455.Google Scholar
  15. Gauch, H.G., 1982. Multivariate Analysis in Community Ecology. Cambridge University Press, New York. 298 pp.Google Scholar
  16. German, M.J., 1967. Biological Survey of the Grand River and Its Tributaries. Department of Lands and Forests, Toronto, Ontario. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  17. Gonzalez, O.J., 1996. Formulating an ecosystem approach to environmental protection. Env. Manag. 20: 597–605.Google Scholar
  18. Gordon, N.D., T.A. McMahon & B.L. Finlayson, 1992. Stream Hydrology: An Introduction for Ecologists. John Wiley and Sons, Toronto. 526 pp.Google Scholar
  19. GRCA (Grand River Conservation Authority), 1979. Environmental Assessment of Water Control Structures in the Grand River Basin: Technical Volume 4: Evaluation of Ecological and Social Environmental Effects of Proposed Alternatives (Appendices). Grand River Conservation Authority Project Team. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  20. Grossman, G.D., P.B. Moyle & J.O. Whittaker, 1982. Stochasticity and assemblage organization in an Indiana stream fish assemblage: A test of community theory. Am. Nat. 120: 423–454.Google Scholar
  21. Hamor, T. & C. Fernando, 1978. Differences in the Fish Fauna in a Reservoir and Upstream and Downstream. Unpublished manuscript available for review from Wilfrid Laurier University Zoology Museum, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5.Google Scholar
  22. Hansen, M.J. & C.W. Ramm, 1994. Persistence and stability of fish community structure in a southwest New York stream. Am. Nat. 132: 52–67.Google Scholar
  23. Hanski, I.A. & M.E. Gilpin (eds), 1997. Meta-Population Biology: Ecology, Genetics, and Evolution. Academic Press, San Diego, 512 pp.Google Scholar
  24. Harvey, B.C., 1987. Susceptibility of young-of-the-year fishes to downstream displacement by flooding. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 116: 851–855.Google Scholar
  25. Holling, C.S., 1973. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 4: 1–23.Google Scholar
  26. Hubbs, C.L. & K.F. Lagler, 1964. Fishes of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. 213 pp.Google Scholar
  27. Kakonge, S., 1970. Ecology of Small Stream Fishes. M.Sc. thesis, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo. 76 pp.Google Scholar
  28. Kondolf, G.M. & E.R. Micheli, 1995. Evaluating stream restoration projects. Env. Manag. 19: 1–15.Google Scholar
  29. Lyons, J., G. González-Hernández, E. Soto-Galera & M. Guzmán-Arroyo, 1998. Decline of freshwater fishes and fisheries in selected drainages of west-central Mexico. Fisheries 23(4): 10–18.Google Scholar
  30. Mackie, G.L., W.B. Morton & M.S. Ferguson, 1983. Fish parasitism in a new impoundment and differences upstream and downstream. Hydrobiologia 99: 197–205.Google Scholar
  31. Mahon, R. & M. Ferguson, 1981. Invasion of a new reservoir by fishes: Species composition, growth and condition. Can. Field Nat. 95: 272–275.Google Scholar
  32. Marsh, P.C. & W.L. Minkley, 1982. Fishes of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in central Arizona. N. Am. J. Fish. Manag. 4: 395–402.Google Scholar
  33. Martinez, P.J., T.E. Chart, M.A. Trammel, J.G. Wullschleger & E.P. Bergersen, 1994. Fish species composition before and after construction of a main stem reservoir on the White River, Colorado. Env. Biol. Fish. 40: 227–239.Google Scholar
  34. Mason, P., 1972. The 1972 Benthic and Fish Analysis Report. Technical report, Grand River Conservation Authority, Land Management Division. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  35. Matthews, W.J., 1986. Fish faunal structure in an Ozark stream: stability, persistence, and a catastrophic flood. Copeia 1986:388–397.Google Scholar
  36. Matthews, W.J., R.C. Cashner & F.P. Gelwick, 1988. Stability and persistence of fish faunas and assemblages in three midwestern streams. Copeia 1988: 945–955.Google Scholar
  37. Miller, R.R., 1946. The need for ichthyological surveys of the major rivers of western North America. Science 104: 517–519.Google Scholar
  38. Montgomery, D.C., 1984. Design and Analysis of Experiments. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 314 pp.Google Scholar
  39. Moore, R. & A. Sandilands, 1979. Woolwich Conservation Area Master Plan. Technical report of the Grand River Conservation Authority. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  40. Mundahl, N.D., 1990. Heat death of fish in shrinking stream pools. Am. Mid. Nat. 123: 40–46.Google Scholar
  41. Neves, R.J. & P.L. Angermeier, 1990. Habitat alteration and its effects on native fishes in the upper Tennessee River system, east-central USA. J. Fish Biol. 37: 45–52.Google Scholar
  42. Niemi, G.J. & seven co-authors, 1990. Overview of case studies on recovery of aquatic systems from disturbance. Env. Manag. 14:571–587.Google Scholar
  43. Patton, T.M. & W.A. Hubert, 1993. Reservoirs on a great plains stream affects downstream habitat and fish assemblages. Fresh. Ecol. 8: 279–286.Google Scholar
  44. Penczak, T.,R. Mahon & E.K. Balon, 1984. The effect of an impoundment on the upstream and downstream fish taxocenes (Speed River, Ontario, Canada). Arch. Hydrobiol. 99: 200–207.Google Scholar
  45. Portt, C.B., 1985. The Effects of Depth and Harvest on Bait Fish in Southern Ontario Streams. Ont. Fish. Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 15. 22 pp.Google Scholar
  46. Rabeni, C.F. & S.P. Sowa, 1996. Integrating biological realism into habitat restoration and conservation strategies for small streams. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 53: 252–259.Google Scholar
  47. Rahel, F.J., J.D. Lyons & P.A. Cochran, 1984. Stochastic or deterministic regulation of assemblage structure? It may depend on how the assemblage is defined. Am. Nat. 124: 583–589.Google Scholar
  48. Robbins, C.R. & six co-authors, 1991. Common and Scientific Names of Fishes. American Fisheries Society, Spec. Publ. 20, Bethesda, MD. 183 pp.Google Scholar
  49. Rooke, J.B. & G.L. Mackie, 1982. An ecological analysis of lotic environments: I. Design and testing. J. Fresh. Ecology 1: 421–431.Google Scholar
  50. Ross, S.T., W.J. Matthews & A.A. Echelle, 1985. Persistence of stream fish assemblages: Effects of environmental change. Am. Nat. 126: 24–40.Google Scholar
  51. Ruhr, C.E., 1956. Effect of stream impoundment in Tennessee on the fish populations of tributary streams. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 75: 144–157.Google Scholar
  52. Sandilands, A., 1971. Fish Report for Grand River Valley. Technical report, Grand River Conservation Authority, Forestry and Wildlife Branch. Available for review at the Grand River Conservation Authority, 400 Clyde Rd. Cambridge, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  53. Schlosser, I.J., 1995. Dispersal, boundary processes, and trophic-level interactions in streams adjacent to beaver ponds. Ecology 76: 908–925.Google Scholar
  54. Scott, W.B. & E.J. Crossman, 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. No. 184. 966 pp.Google Scholar
  55. Sheldon, V.E., 1968. Species diversity and longitudinal succession in stream fishes. Ecology 49: 193–198.Google Scholar
  56. Shelford, A.L., 1911. Ecological succession: Stream fishes and the method of physiographic analysis. Biol. Bull. 21: 9–35.Google Scholar
  57. Smith, P.W., 1971. Illinois streams: A classification based on their fish and an analysis of factors responsible for the disappearance of native species. Ill. Nat. Hist. Sur. Biol. Note. No. 76.Google Scholar
  58. Stock, J.D. & I.J. Schlosser, 1991. Short-term effects of a catastrophic beaver dam collapse on a stream fish community. Env. Biol. Fish. 31: 1123–1129.Google Scholar
  59. Sutherland, J.P., 1974. Multiple stable points in natural communities. Am. Nat. 108: 858–873.Google Scholar
  60. Taylor, B.R. & J.C. Roff, 1986. Long-term effects of highway construction on the ecology of a southern Ontario streams. Env. Poll. Ser. A(40): 317–344.Google Scholar
  61. Thornton, K.W., B.L. Kimmel & F.E. Payne, 1990. Reservoir Limnology: Ecological Perspectives. Wiley-Interscience Publication, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York. 246 pp.Google Scholar
  62. Tsai, C., 1973. Water quality and fish life below sewage outfalls. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 102: 281–292.Google Scholar
  63. Waters, T.F., 1995. Sediment in Streams: Sources, Biological Effects and Control. American Fisheries Society Monograph 7, Bethesda, MD. 251 pp.Google Scholar
  64. Waters, T.F., 1983. Replacement of brook trout by brown trout over 15 years in a Minnesota stream: Production and abundance. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 112: 137–146.Google Scholar
  65. Weaver, L.A. & G.C. Garman, 1994. Urbanization of a watershed and historical changes in a stream fish assemblage. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 123: 162–172.Google Scholar
  66. Wilkinson, L., 1990. SYSTAT: The System for Statistics. SYSTAT Inc., Evanson, Ill. 39 pp.Google Scholar
  67. Wood, P.J. & P.D. Armitage, 1997. Biological effects of fine sediment in the lotic environment. Environ. Manag. 21: 203–217.Google Scholar
  68. Wohl, N.E. & R.F. Carline, 1996. Relations among riparian grazing, sediment loads, macroinvertebrates, and fishes in three Pennyslvania streams. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 53: 260–266.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dean G. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • Ed Kott
    • 2
  • Roman P. Lanno
    • 3
  • D. George Dixon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterloo
  2. 2.Wilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterloo
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwater

Personalised recommendations