Stream fish response to intermittency and drying in the Ichawaynochaway Creek Basin
Davis, Jessica Lynn
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Streamflow alteration from the combined effects of water extraction and climate change is recognized as a major threat to aquatic ecosystems. The Ichawaynochaway Creek Basin is a Gulf Coastal Plain stream system in southwestern Georgia, where streamflows are strongly influenced by agricultural water withdrawals and recent droughts. This study explores effects of stream intermittency and drying on the composition of biologically diverse fish communities, and life history traits that may influence persistence of four closely related cyprinid species. Intermittent stream communities were found to be a subset of perennial stream communities, with the highest persistence rates among adults and juveniles of species that commonly occur in intermittent streams. My results identify life history traits that may be useful for understanding differences in how closely related species respond to changing environments, with smaller body size at maturity along with appropriate reproductive timing promoting greater persistence given more frequent and intense disturbances.