NANFA-L-- Interesting article on land use changes & SE Fishes

Bruce Stallsmith (
Tue, 06 Dec 2005 21:02:57 -0500

A recent issue of the journal Biological Conservation has this article:
"Winners and losers among stream fishes in relation to land use legacies and
urban development in the southeastern US" by Mark C. Scott, Institute of
Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens. It's an interesting piece,
statistically (in part) demonstrating the ongoing disappearance of many
endemics from the southern Appalachians.

I pasted the Abstract below. If anyone is interested in receiving a .pdf, I
have one I can send you if you contact me off-line.

--Bruce Stallsmith
along the Tennessee
Huntsville, AL, US of A

The southeastern United States is a center of aquatic species diversity and
endemism in North America, but many taxa are imperiled or in decline.
Proactive conservation strategies depend on developing sensitive measures of
ecological response to environmental degradation early in the process. In
the southern Appalachian highlands, much of the region has reforested
following extensive logging and agriculture in the last century, but
recently exurban development has surged. Patterns of aquatic ecosystem
response to these changes were examined in 36 watersheds along a gradient of
forest cover from moderately to heavily forested. A linear combination of
watershed-scale measures reflecting the extent contemporary forest cover,
the trajectory of forest cover change over time, and building and road
density were stronger predictors of fish assemblage composition than
topographic features. A measure of biotic homogenization relating the
abundance of endemic highland fishes to abundance of broad-ranged fishes was
sensitive to the gradient of anthropogenic disturbance. Across the watershed
disturbance gradient, cosmopolitan species were clear winners as forms
unique to the Appalachian highlands were lost. Similar measures of
homogenization may be suitable elsewhere for tracking early warning signs of
ecosystem stress, particularly in regions with significant endemism.
Quantification of the homogenization process in response to urban
development and other stressors is a promising avenue for proactive
conservation, land use planning, and sustainable development efforts.
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