Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 251–269 | Cite as

Fish Communities and Their Associations with Environmental Variables, Lower San Joaquin River Drainage, California

  • Larry R. Brown


Twenty sites in the lower San Joaquin River drainage, California, were sampled from 1993 to 1995 to characterize fish communities and their associations with measures of water quality and habitat quality. The feasibility of developing an Index of Biotic Integrity was assessed by evaluating four fish community metrics, including percentages of native fish, omnivorous fish, fish intolerant of environmental degradation, and fish with external anomalies. Of the thirty-one taxa of fish captured during the study, only 10 taxa were native to the drainage. Multivariate analyses of percentage data identified four site groups characterized by different groups of species. The distributions of fish species were related to specific conductance, gradient, and mean depth; however, specific conductance acted as a surrogate variable for a large group of correlated variables. Two of the fish community metrics – percentage of introduced fish and percentage of intolerant fish – appeared to be responsive to environmental quality but the responses of the other two metrics – percentage of omnivorous fish and percentage of fish with anomalies – were less direct. The conclusion of the study is that fish communities are responsive to environmental conditions, including conditions associated with human-caused disturbances, particularly agriculture and water development. The results suggest that changes in water management and water quality could result in changes in species distributions. Balancing the costs and benefits of such changes poses a considerable challenge to resource managers.

introduced species native species water quality habitat quality bioassessments multivariate analysis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Allan, J.D. & A.S. Flecker. 1993. Biodiversity conservation in runningwaters: identifying the major factors that affect destruction of riverine species and ecosystems. Bioscience 43: 32-43.Google Scholar
  2. Baltz, D.M. & P.B. Moyle. 1993. Invasion resistance to introduced fishes by a native assemblage of California stream fishes. Ecol. Appl. 3: 246-255.Google Scholar
  3. Bramblett, R.G. & K.D. Fausch. 1991. Variable fish communities and the index of biotic integrity in a western Great Plains River. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 120: 752-769.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, L.R. & P.B. Moyle. 1992. Native fishes of the San Joaquin drainage: status of a remnant fauna and its habitats. pp. 89-98. In: D.F. Williams, S. Byrne & T.A. Rado (ed.) Endangered and Sensitive Species of the San Joaquin Valley, California: Their Biology, Management, and Conservation, The California Energy Commission, Sacramento.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, L.R. & P.B. Moyle. 1993. Distribution, ecology, and status of the fishes of the San Joaquin River drainage, California. Calif. Fish and Game 79: 96-114.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, L.R. & P.B. Moyle. 1997. Invading species in the Eel River, California: successes, failures, and relationships with resident species. Env. Biol. Fish. 49: 271-291.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, L.R., C.R. Kratzer & N.M. Dubrovsky. 1999. Integrating chemical, water quality, habitat, and fish assemblage data from the San Joaquin River drainage, California. In: C. Smith & K. Scow (ed.) Integrated Assessment of Ecosystem Health, CRC Press, Boca Raton (in press).Google Scholar
  8. Dill,W.A. & A.J. Cordone. 1997. History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. California Department of Fish and Game, Fish Bulletin 178, Sacramento. 414 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Domagalski, J.L., N.M. Dubrovsky & C.R. Kratzer. 1997. Pesticides in the San Joaquin River, California: inputs from dormant sprayed orchards. J. Environ. Qual. 26: 454-465.Google Scholar
  10. Dudgeon, D. 1992. Endangered ecosystems: a review of the conservation status of tropical Asian rivers. Hydrobiologia 248: 167-191.Google Scholar
  11. Fausch, K.D., J.R. Karr & P.R. Yant. 1984. Regional application of an index of biotic integrity based on stream fish communities. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 113: 39-55.Google Scholar
  12. Fishman, M.J. & L.C. Friedman. 1989. Methods for the determination of inorganic substances in water and fluvial sediments. U.S. Geological Survey Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 5. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston. 546 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Hill, M.O. 1979. TWINSPAN-aFORTRAN program for arranging multivariate data in an ordered two-way table by classification of the individuals and attributes. Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca. 90 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Hill, M.O. & H.G. Gauch. 1980. Detrended correspondence analysis, an improved ordination technique. Vegetatio 42: 47-58.Google Scholar
  15. Hughes, R.M. & J.R. Gammon. 1987. Longitudinal changes in fish assemblages and water quality in the Willamette River, Oregon. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 116: 196-209.Google Scholar
  16. Jennings, M.R. & M.K. Saiki. 1990. Establishment of red shiner, Notropis lutrensis, in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Calif. Fish and Game 76: 46-57.Google Scholar
  17. Jongman, R.H.G., C.J.F. ter Braak & O.F.R. Tongeren. 1995. Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 299 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Kahrl, W.L., W.A. Bowen, S. Brand, M.L. Shelton, D.L. Fuller & D.A. Ryan. 1978. The California water atlas. The Governor's Office of Planning and Research, Sacramento. 118 pp.Google Scholar
  19. Karr, J.R. 1981. Assessment of biotic integrity using fish communities. Fisheries 6: 21-27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karr, J.R. 1991. Biological integrity: a long-neglected aspect of water resource management. Ecol. Appl. 1: 66-84.Google Scholar
  21. Kuivila, K.M. & C.G. Foe. 1995. Concentrations, transport and biological effects of dormant spray pesticides in the San Francisco estuary, California. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 14: 1141-1150.Google Scholar
  22. Leonard, P.M. & D.J. Orth. 1986. Application and testing of an index of biotic integrity in small coolwater streams. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 115: 401-414.Google Scholar
  23. Mount, J.F. 1995. California rivers and streams: the conflict between fluvial process and land use. University of California Press, Berkeley. 359 pp.Google Scholar
  24. Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley. 405 pp.Google Scholar
  25. Moyle, P.B. 1994. Biodiversity, biomonitoring, and the structure of stream fish communities. pp. 171-186. In: S.L. Loeb & A. Spacie (ed.) Biological Monitoring of Aquatic Systems, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton.Google Scholar
  26. Moyle, P.B. & R.A. Leidy. 1992. Loss of biodiversity in aquatic systems: evidence from fish faunas. pp. 127-169. In: P.L. Feidler & S. Jain (ed.) Conservation Biology: The Theory and Practice of Nature Conservation, Preservation, and Management, Chapman and Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Moyle, P.B. & T. Light. 1996a. Biological invasions of freshwater: empirical rules and assembly theory. Biol. Conserv. 78: 149-162.Google Scholar
  28. Moyle, P.B. & T. Light. 1996b. Fish invasions in California: do abiotic factors determine success? Ecology 77: 1666-1670.Google Scholar
  29. Moyle, P.B. & R.D. Nichols. 1973. Ecology of some native and introduced fishes of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Central California. Copeia 1973: 978-990.Google Scholar
  30. Moyle, P.B. & R.D. Nichols. 1974. Decline of the native fish fauna of the Sierra Nevada foothills, central California. Amer. Midl. Nat. 92: 72-83.Google Scholar
  31. Moyle, P.B. & P.J. Randall. 1998. Evaluating the biotic integrity of watersheds in the Sierra Nevada, California. Conserv. Biol. 12: 1318-1326.Google Scholar
  32. Moyle, P.B. & R.M. Yoshiyama. 1993. Protection of aquatic biodiversity in California: a five-tiered approach. Fisheries 19: 6-18.Google Scholar
  33. Paller, M.H. 1995. Relationships among number of fish species sampled, reach length surveyed, and sampling effort in South Carolina coastal plain streams. N. Amer. J. Fish. Manag. 15: 110-120.Google Scholar
  34. Power, M.E., W.J. Matthews & A.J. Stewart. 1987. Grazing minnows, piscivorous bass, and stream algae: dynamics of a strong interaction. Ecology 66: 1448-1456.Google Scholar
  35. Pusey, B.J., M.J. Kennard, J.M. Arthur & A.H. Arthington. 1998. Quantitative sampling of stream fish assemblages: single-vs. multiple-pass electrofishing. Australian J. Ecol. 23: 365-374.Google Scholar
  36. Saiki, M.K. 1984. Environmental conditions and fish saunas in low elevation rivers on the irrigated San Joaquin Valley floor, California. Calif. Fish and Game 70: 145-157.Google Scholar
  37. Schlosser, I.J. 1987. The role of predation in age-and size-related habitat use by stream fishes. Ecology 68: 651-659.Google Scholar
  38. Schulz, P.D. & D.D. Simons. 1973. Fish species diversity in a prehistoric central California indian midden. Calif. Fish and Game 59: 107-113.Google Scholar
  39. Simonson, T.D. & J. Lyons. 1995. Comparison of catch per unit effort and removal procedures for sampling stream fish assemblages. N. Amer. J. Fish. Manag. 15: 419-427.Google Scholar
  40. Sommer, T., R. Baxter & B. Herbold. 1997. The resilience of splittail in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 126: 961-976.Google Scholar
  41. ter Braak, C.J.F. 1986. Canonical correspondence analysis: a new eigenvector method for multivariate direct gradient analysis. Ecology 67: 1167-1179.Google Scholar
  42. ter Braak, C.J.F. 1987. CANOCO: a FORTRAN program for canonical community ordination by (partial) (detrended) (canonical) correspondence analysis, principal component analysis and redundancy analysis. TNO Institute of Applied Computer Science, Wageningen. 95 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry R. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveySacramentoU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations