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Evaluating habitat associations of a fish assemblage at multiple scales in a minimally distrubed stream on the Edwards Plateau

Longear sunfish captured from the South Llano River, Texas.

Duration

September 2011 - August 2013

Narrative

The South Llano River is still considered to be a minimally disturbed system (Stoddard et al. 2006) with the highest levels of habitat degradation located downstream near Junction, Texas. As one of the remaining unregulated rivers in Texas it has been described as a pristine and ecologically healthy river supporting several endemic species and typical fish assemblages found throughout the region (Linam 2002; Hubbs 2008). Minimally impacted systems like the South Llano River can be a valuable tool for managers by using it as a regional reference site (Stoddard et al. 2006; Hughes 1986). Reference sites can be used as a “benchmark” for disturbed streams by providing a feasible picture of desirable water quality, habitat structure, and species richness (Hughes 1986). More importantly, reference sites can provide information on species assemblage structure and distribution in relation to environmental variables.
The objective of this study is to assess the fish assemblage habitat relationships at multiple instream scales to conclude which variables and at different spatial scales have the most influence on determining fish assemblage structure in this region. To accomplish this I will compare fish communities their habitat associations throughout the study area. This will include comparing associations at the site scale, mesohabitat scale, and upstream to downstream reaches. I will also be comparing the fish communities across different gradients of disturbance by examining species distribution in the less disturbed (upstream) and more disturbed (downstream) reaches. Ultimately, this information could potentially provide the appropriate standard or “benchmark” (Hughes 1986) for other river ecosystems in the Edwards Plateau region and provide managers with potential repercussions that may come with any future alterations to stream and landscape habitats at various spatial scales in the region (Gido et al. 2006).

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Cheek, B.D. & T.B. Grabowski. 2014. Evaluating habitat associations of a fish assemblage at multiple scales in a minimally disturbed stream on the Edwards Plateau, central Texas. U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Cooperator Science Series FWS/CSS-104-2014, Washington, D.C. Abstract |  Download  | 
  • Birdsong TW, M Bean, TB Hardy, TB Grabowski, T Heard, D Holdstock, K Kollaus, S Magnelia, & K Tolman. 2015. Application and utility of a low-cost unmanned aerial system to manage and conserve aquatic resources in four Texas rivers. Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 2:80-85. Abstract |  Download  |  Publisher Website | 
  • Cheek BD, TB Grabowski, PT Bean, JR Groeschel, & SJ Magnelia. 2016. Evaluating habitat associations of a fish assemblage at multiple spatial scales in a minimally disturbed stream using low-cost remote sensing. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 26:20-34. doi: 10.1002/aqc2569 Abstract |  Publisher Website | 

Presentations

  • Cheek BD & TB Grabowski. Evaluating habitat associations of a fish assemblage at multiple scales in a minimally disturbed stream on the Edwards Plateau. 2013 Spring Meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society. Nashville, Tennessee. 7-10 February 2013.
  • Grabowski TB, BD Cheek, JR Groeschel, PT Bean, & S Magneila. Evaluating the habitat associations of a stream fish assemblage at multiple spatial scales using low-cost side scan sonar. Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society Spring Meeting 2015. Savannah, GA. 29 January-01 February 2015.
  • Grabowski TB, PT Bean, B Grisham, and JR Groeschel. Linking low-cost side scan sonar habitat data with occupancy-based population models. 145th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society. Portland, Oregon. 16-20 August 2015.
 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 102

Masters Students: 247

Phd Students: 163

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 266

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 722

Scientific Publications: 1960

Presentations: 4355

 

Personnel

Funding Agencies

  • Cooperative Research Units
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Links

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