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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Country-wide analysis of large wood as a driver of fish abundance in Swedish streams: Which species benefit and where?

Donadi, Serena; Sandin, Leonard; Tamario, Carl; Degerman, Erik

Abstract

Rivers are heavily affected by human impacts that threaten many fish species. Among restoration measures, the addition of large wood (LW) in streams has been shown to increase fish abundance, yet which species benefit from LW, to what extent relative to other drivers, and which factors influence LW quantity is not clear, and these uncertainties limit our ability to use LW as an effective restoration measure. Here, a time series (from 1993 to 2016) of electrofishing data, including 3641 streams across Sweden, was used to investigate the beneficial effects of LW on the abundance of juvenile brown trout, Salmo trutta, juvenile Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, and juvenile and adult sculpins, Cottus gobio and Cottus poecilopus, while accounting for other abiotic and biotic factors, and the drivers of LW abundance at a country-wide scale. Large wood benefitted brown trout, and the effects were greater with decreasing shaded stream surface. LW effects were comparable in magnitude to the positive effects of average annual air temperature and the negative effects of stream depth and predator abundance - factors where the influence was second only to the negative effects of stream width. LW did not benefit salmon abundance, which was correlated positively with stream width and negatively with altitude, nor did it benefit sculpin abundances, which mainly decreased with annual average air temperature and altitude. The quantity of LW strongly diminished with stream width, and, to a lesser extent, with stream depth, altitude, annual average air temperature, and forest age, whereas it increased with stream velocity, slope, and forest cover. The results suggest that LW can be used as an effective restoration tool for brown trout in shallow and narrow streams, especially in areas with little shade. Here, the addition of LW may help to alleviate the impacts of forest clearance and climate change.

Keywords

Cottus gobio; Cottus poecilopus; path analysis; river restoration; Salmo salar; Salmo trutta

Published in

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
2019, Volume: 29, number: 5, pages: 706-716