Forest linkages to diversity and abundancein lowland stream fish communitiesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In 1999 we sampled fish and fish habitat in 79 stream reaches within watersheds of north-central Mississippi. Despite a program of successful reforestation and soil stabilization (Yazoo-Little Tallahatchie Project, 1949–1985), nearly all streams in the region are channelized or incised. In these sandy, upper Coastal Plain streams, we explored the relationships among in-stream wood, canopy cover, and stream fish assemblages and were particularly interested in how these relationships are affected by extensive channel modification. Minnows, sunfishes, darters, and catfishes, respectively, dominated the fauna. Total fish species, total fish abundance, minnow relative abundance, and canopy cover were related only to watershed size. Stream incision, as indicated by high banks and shallow water depths, showed negative associations with sunfish relative abundance, in-stream wood, and detritus. Flow and large in-stream wood were associated positively with relative abundances of darters and catfishes. Despite scarcity of wood and deep pools in these systems, we detected associations between fish assemblage composition and in-stream wood. Our analysis suggests even modest densities of in-stream wood can shift fish assemblage attributes from colonizing stages to intermediate or stable stages.