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Large‐bodied fish assemblage characteristics in large rivers across Ontario

Haxton, T., Friday, M., Cano, T., Hendry, C.
River research and applications 2017 v.33 no.7 pp. 1044-1051
Acipenser fulvescens, Ambloplites rupestris, Catostomus catostomus, Catostomus commersonii, Coregonus clupeaformis, Esox lucius, Lota lota, Micropterus dolomieu, Moxostoma anisurum, Moxostoma macrolepidotum, Perca flavescens, Sander canadensis, adults, correlation, correspondence analysis, fish, juveniles, landscapes, linear models, longitude, netting, rivers, species diversity, stream flow, Ontario
Large‐bodied fish assemblages were assessed in large rivers across Ontario. The objectives of this study were to (i) determine if there were relationships in large‐bodied fish species within rivers; (ii) determine what factors explain the variability in the abundance of large‐bodied fish within rivers across Ontario; and (iii) assessed variation in large‐bodied fish biodiversity among these river. Standardized index netting was conducted at 22 sites across 12 major rivers and sampled 3889 fish representing 26 species. Species associations were evident based on correspondence analysis. Walleye, Common White Sucker, Northern Pike and Lake Whitefish formed one group; Silver Redhorse, Shorthead Redhorse and Lake Sturgeon (adult and juvenile) formed another; Burbot, Longnose Sucker and Sauger were closely associated; and Cisco, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Brown Bullhead grouped. Canonical correspondence analysis was conducted to link species abundance patterns to environmental conditions. Walleye, Common White Sucker, Lake Whitefish and Smallmouth Bass were ubiquitous. Northern Pike abundance was negatively correlated with river discharge and longitude. Burbot, Sauger and Longnose Sucker abundance were positively correlated with deep rivers and discharge. Whereas Cisco, Yellow Perch and Rock Bass abundance were greater in wider rivers with lower discharge. Lake Sturgeon (adult and juvenile), Silver Redhorse and Shorthead Redhorse abundance were greater in narrow, longer rivers. Juvenile Lake Sturgeon abundance was positively correlated with longitude and river discharge. Mean species diversity and richness of large‐bodied fish among all sites was 1.58 (0.36 SD) and 7.7 (2.6 SD). Species diversity was not significantly related to any of the variables used in the Generalized Linear Model; however, species richness was significantly related to maximum depth. This study demonstrated subtle differences in environmental variables affecting large‐bodied fish at the landscape scale rather than those observed at the river scale.