Simple processes drive unpredictable differences in estuarine fish assemblages: baselines for understanding site-specific ecological and anthropogenic impacts

Sheaves, Marcus (2016) Simple processes drive unpredictable differences in estuarine fish assemblages: baselines for understanding site-specific ecological and anthropogenic impacts. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 170. pp. 61-69.

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Abstract

Predicting patterns of abundance and composition of biotic assemblages is essential to our understanding of key ecological processes, and our ability to monitor, evaluate and manage assemblages and ecosystems. Fish assemblages often vary from estuary to estuary in apparently unpredictable ways, making it challenging to develop a general understanding of the processes that determine assemblage composition. This makes it problematic to transfer understanding from one estuary situation to another and therefore difficult to assemble effective management plans or to assess the impacts of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. Although system-to-system variability is a common property of ecological systems, rather than being random it is the product of complex interactions of multiple causes and effects at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. I investigate the drivers of differences in estuary fish assemblages, to develop a simple model explaining the diversity and complexity of observed estuary-to-estuary differences, and explore its implications for management and conservation. The model attributes apparently unpredictable differences in fish assemblage composition from estuary to estuary to the interaction of species-specific, life history-specific and scale-specific processes. In explaining innate faunal differences among estuaries without the need to invoke complex ecological or anthropogenic drivers, the model provides a baseline against which the effects of additional natural and anthropogenic factors can be evaluated.

Item ID: 43831
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: estuarine fish; estuarine ecology; evaluating change; nursery grounds; spatial variation; spatial ecology
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2016 01:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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