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The effects of riparian disturbance on the condition and summer diets of age-0 brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in three central Appalachian streams

Studinski, Jered M., Hafs, Andrew W., Niles, Jonathan M., Hartman, Kyle J.
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 2016 v.74 no.7 pp. 980-986
Ephemeroptera, Salvelinus fontinalis, acid deposition, aquatic food webs, diet, fish, riparian areas, streams, summer, trees, Appalachian region
Forested headwater streams are dependent on their riparian zones for many critical goods and services. It is assumed that riparian disturbance affects stream food webs, but for some ecologically and economically important taxa like brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), little research has been performed. This study found that intense but spatially limited riparian disturbance resulted in significant but context-dependent changes in the diets and condition of age-0 brook trout in three central Appalachian streams. Dietary shifts in two of the streams appeared to enable age-0 brook trout to maintain or increase condition following riparian tree removal. A significant relationship between fish condition and the importance of Ephemeroptera as prey was observed. The lack of dietary shift to energetically important ephemeropterans coincided with decreased fish condition within one stream previously identified to be mildly impacted by acid precipitation. The context within which riparian disturbance occurs plays an important role in determining the overall impact to age-0 brook trout and should be an important consideration in future regulatory and management decisions.