A multi-scaled approach to evaluating the fish community structure within southern Appalachian streams
Kirsch, Joseph Edward
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There is considerable uncertainty regarding the relative roles of stream habitat, landscape characteristics, and interspecific interactions in structuring stream fish assemblages. Thus, I evaluated the relative importance of environmental characteristics and species interactions, at local and landscape scales, on fish occupancy within the upper Little Tennessee River basin, Georgia and North Carolina. Using a quadrat sample design, fishes were collected at 525 channel units among 48 study reaches during two consecutive years. I evaluated the relative support for the influence of local- and landscape-scale factors on fish occupancy using multi-scaled, hierarchical, multi-species occupancy models. Modeling results indicated that fish occupancy within stream reaches was most influenced by physical in-stream habitat characteristics and interspecific interactions and fishes occupancy of between stream reaches was most influenced by landscape characteristics. Therefore natural resource managers should consider both local and landscape-scale factors and account for hierarchical theory when allocating management resources.