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The abiotic and biotic factors limiting establishment of predatory fishes at their expanding northern range boundaries in Ontario, Canada

Alofs, Karen M., Jackson, Donald A.
Global change biology 2015 v.21 no.6 pp. 2227-2237
Ambloplites rupestris, Micropterus dolomieu, Micropterus salmoides, biodiversity, community structure, fish, fish communities, global warming, introduced species, lakes, surveys, variance, watersheds, Ontario
There is a poor understanding of the importance of biotic interactions in determining species distributions with climate change. Theory from invasion biology suggests that the success of species introductions outside of their historical ranges may be either positively (biotic acceptance) or negatively (biotic resistance) related to native biodiversity. Using data on fish community composition from two survey periods separated by approximately 28 years during which climate was warming, we examined the factors influencing the establishment of three predatory centrarchids: Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), Largemouth Bass (M. salmoides), and Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) in lakes at their expanding northern range boundaries in Ontario. Variance partitioning demonstrated that, at a regional scale, abiotic factors play a stronger role in determining the establishment of these species than biotic factors. Pairing lakes within watersheds where each species had established with lakes sharing similar abiotic conditions where the species had not established revealed both positive and negative relationships between the establishment of centrarchids and the historical presence of other predatory species. The establishment of these species near their northern range boundaries is primarily determined by abiotic factors at a regional scale; however, biotic factors become important at the lake‐to‐lake scale. Studies of exotic species invasions have previously highlighted how spatial scale mediates the importance of abiotic vs. biotic factors on species establishment. Our study demonstrates how concepts from invasion biology can inform our understanding of the factors controlling species distributions with changing climate.