Temporal trends of stream fish counts in a Southern Appalachian watershed and evidence for effects of environmental variation
Pringle, Ross Newlin
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The Little Tennessee River in North Carolina and Georgia is an area of high aquatic biodiversity in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The purpose of this research was to examine changes in fish populations in the Little Tennessee River using fish count data collected over a 24-year period from 1990-2013 and to determine if these changes could be explained by variations in temperature or stream flow. The majority of the 26 selected stream fish species included in the study, showed either positive growth or no significant trends, though most non-significant results still indicated a growing population. Only 3 of the selected species showed significant declines over this 24-year time period. Decreased minimum stream flows and increased maximum temperatures seemed to have a positive effect on the counts of most species. Thus it seems that most stream fish have responded positively to observed climate changes in the Little Tennessee River watershed.