fish

Factors Influencing Tropical Island Freshwater Fishes: Species, Status, and Management Implications in Puerto Rico

Neal JW, Lilyestrom CG, Kwak TJ (2009) Factors influencing tropical island freshwater fishes: species, status, and management implications in Puerto Rico. Fisheries 37:546-554

Abstract: 
Anthropogenic effects including river regulation, watershed development, contamination, and fish introductions have substantially affected the majority of freshwater habitats in Europe and North America. This pattern of resource development and degradation is widespread in the tropics, and often little is known about the resources before they are lost. This article describes the freshwater resources of Puerto Rico and identifies factors that threaten conservation of native fishes. The fishes found in freshwater habitats of Puerto Rico represent a moderately diverse assemblage composed of 14 orders, 29 families, and 82 species. There are fewer than 10 species of native peripherally-freshwater fish that require a link to marine systems. Introductions of nonindigenous species have greatly expanded fish diversity in freshwater systems, and native estuarine and marine species (18 families) also commonly enter lowland rivers and brackish lagoons. Environmental alterations, including land use and development, stream channelization, pollution, and the impoundment of rivers, combined with nonnative species introductions threaten the health and sustainability of aquatic resources in Puerto Rico. Six principal areas for attention that are important influences on the current and future status of the freshwater fish resources of Puerto Rico are identified and discussed.

Linking Species and Ecosystems: Different Biotic Assemblages Cause Interstream Differences in Organic Matter

Linking Species and Ecosystems: Different Biotic Assemblages Cause Interstream Differences in Organic Matter
C. M. Pringle, Nina Hemphill, W. H. McDowell, Angela Bednarek and James G. March
Ecology
Vol. 80, No. 6 (Sep., 1999), pp. 1860-1872

Abstract: 
Here we test the hypothesis that differences in macrobiotic assemblages can lead to differences in the quantity and quality of organic matter in benthic depositional environments among streams in montane Puerto Rico. We experimentally manipulated biota over a 30–40 d period in two streams with distinctly different macrobiotic assemblages: one characterized by high densities of omnivorous shrimps (Decapoda: Atyidae and Xiphocarididae) and no predaceous fishes, and one characterized by low densities of shrimps and the presence of predaceous fishes. To incorporate the natural hydrologic regime and to avoid confounding artifacts associated with cage enclosures/exclosures (e.g., high sedimentation), we used electricity as a mechanism for experimental exclusion, in situ. In each stream, shrimps and/or fishes were excluded from specific areas of rock substrata in four pools using electric “fences” attached to solar-powered fence chargers. In the stream lacking predaceous fishes (Sonadora), the unelectrified control treatment was almost exclusively dominated by high densities of omnivorous shrimps that constantly ingested fine particulate material from rock surfaces. Consequently, the control had significantly lower levels of inorganic sediments, organic material, carbon, and nitrogen than the exclusion treatment, as well as less variability in these parameters. Tenfold more organic material (as ash-free dry mass, AFDM) and fivefold more nitrogen accrued in shrimp exclosures (10.6 g AFDM/m2, 0.2 g N/m2) than in controls (1.1 g AFDM/m2, 0.04 g N/m2). By reducing the quantity of fine particulate organic material and associated nitrogen in benthic environments, omnivorous shrimps potentially affect the supply of this important resource to other trophic levels. The small amount of fine particulate organic matter (FPOM) that remained in control treatments (composed of sparse algal cells) was of higher quality than that in shrimp exclosures. This is evidenced by the significantly lower carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratio (an indicator of food quality, with relatively low C/N indicating higher food quality) in the control relative to the shrimp exclosure treatment. In contrast, the stream with predaceous fishes (Bisley) was characterized by very low numbers of shrimps, and macrobiota had no significant effect on benthic sediments, organic matter, C, N, and C/N. All parameters were highly variable through time, with levels and ranges in variability similar to the shrimp exclusion treatment in the Sonadora. Our experimental results are consistent with findings of an independent survey of six streams in four different drainages. Four streams that had an abundance of omnivorous shrimps, but lacked predaceous fishes, had extremely low levels of fine benthic organic and inorganic material. In contrast, two streams that had low densities of shrimps and contained predaceous fishes had significantly higher levels. Results show a strong linkage between species and ecosystem characteristics: interstream differences in the quantity and quality of fine benthic organic matter resources were determined by the nature of the macrobiotic assemblage. Furthermore, patterns in the distribution of shrimp assemblages reflected landscape patterns in the benthic depositional environment among streams.

the role of omnivory in a neotropical stream: separating diurnal and nocturnal effects

The Role of Omnivory in a Neotropical Stream: Separating Diurnal and Nocturnal Effects
Catherine M. Pringle and Toshihide Hamazaki
Ecology
Vol. 79, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 269-280

Abstract: 
The role of omnivory in structuring communities is potentially great in lowland neotropical streams that are characterized by an abundance of macroconsumers that consume both insects and algae. Here, we separate effects of natural densities of diurnal fishes and nocturnal shrimps in structuring the benthic community of a stream draining Costa Rica's Atlantic slope. We experimentally manipulated the spatial and temporal access of fishes and shrimps to benthic resources, in situ, using electric "fences" powered by solar-powered fence chargers. Both fishes and shrimps significantly reduced inorganic sediment mass, organic ashfree dry mass (AFDM), densities of larval Chironomidae, and total insects: their combined effects were greater than effects of either group alone, and there was no significant interaction. Fishes shifted algal community composition from diatoms to green and blue-green algae and benthic insect communities towards chironomids, while shrimps had no significant effect on community composition. Effects of fishes were generally greater than those of shrimps, and this is due, in part, to higher natural densities and foraging pressures of fishes. Furthermore, shrimps foraged for significantly longer periods of time in the treatment where fishes were excluded than in the combined fish and shrimp access treatment, suggesting that diurnally feeding fishes are strong "interactors," mediating resource availability to nocturnally feeding shrimps. Natural erosion and sediment-mediated effects of macroconsumers (both direct and indirect) also affected algal communities: a manual sediment removal experiment resulted in significant reductions of diatom biovolume and increases in the filament length of green and blue-green algae. Our results show the importance of: (1) assessing macroconsumer effects in a relatively natural depositional environment subject to background erosion and sloughing (i.e., in this case by using electric exclosures); (2) evaluating effects of natural densities of both diurnal and nocturnal macroconsumers through time in the context of these abiotic effects; and (3) distinguishing between the response of different types of algal resources (e.g., diatoms vs. green and blue-green algae), which are differentially affected by sedimentation and erosion. Cage experiments, short-term observations, or one-time sampling of undifferentiated "algae" may artificially overestimate trophic effects and underestimate abiotic effects. We found no evidence of a trophic cascade. Our findings are in agreement with the theoretical prediction that large-sized omnivores have strong direct trophic (feeding) effects, both on smaller primary consumers (insects) and basal resources (algae).

INDIRECT UPSTREAM EFFECTS OF DAMS: CONSEQUENCES OF MIGRATORY CONSUMER EXTIRPATION IN PUERTO RICO

GREATHOUSE, EFFIE A.; PRINGLE, CATHERINE M.; MCDOWELL, WILLIAM H.; HOLMQUIST, JEFF G. 2006. INDIRECT UPSTREAM EFFECTS OF DAMS: CONSEQUENCES OF MIGRATORY CONSUMER EXTIRPATION IN PUERTO RICO. Ecological Applications, 16(1), :339-352.

Abstract: 
Large dams degrade the integrity of a wide variety of ecosystems, yet direct downstream effects of dams have received the most attention from ecosystem managers and researchers. We investigated indirect upstream effects of dams resulting from decimation of migratory freshwater shrimp and fish populations in Puerto Rico, USA, in both high- and low-gradient streams. In high-gradient streams above large dams, native shrimps and fishes were extremely rare, whereas similar sites without large dams had high abundances of native consumers. Losses of native fauna above dams dramatically altered their basal food resources and assemblages of invertebrate competitors and prey. Compared to pools in high-gradient streams with no large dams, pool epilithon above dams had nine times more algal biomass, 20 times more fine benthic organic matter (FBOM), 65 times more fine benthic inorganic matter (FBIM), 28 times more carbon, 19 times more nitrogen, and four times more non-decapod invertebrate biomass. High-gradient riffles upstream from large dams had five times more FBIM than did undammed riffles but showed no difference in algal abundance, FBOM, or non-decapod invertebrate biomass. For epilithon of lowgradient streams, differences in basal resources between pools above large dams vs. without large dams were considerably smaller in magnitude than those observed for pools in highgradient sites. These results match previous stream experiments in which the strength of native shrimp and fish effects increased with stream gradient. Our results demonstrate that dams can indirectly affect upstream free-flowing reaches by eliminating strong top-down effects of consumers. Migratory omnivorous shrimps and fishes occur throughout the tropics, and the consequences of their declines upstream from many tropical dams are likely to be similar to those in Puerto Rico. Thus, ecological effects of migratory fauna loss upstream from dams encompass a wider variety of species interactions and biomes than the bottom-up effects (i.e., elimination of salmonid nutrient subsidies) recognized for northern temperate systems.

ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT IN CENTRAL AMERICA: IMPACTS OF SMALL DAMS AND WATER DIVERSION ON NEOTROPICAL STREAM FISH ASSEMBLAGES

Anderson EP, Freeman MC, Pringle CM. 2006a. Ecological consequences of hydropower development in Central America: impacts of small
dams and water diversion on neotropical stream fish assemblages. River Research and Applications 22: 397–411.

Abstract: 
Small dams for hydropower have caused widespread alteration of Central American rivers, yet much of recent development has gone undocumented by scientists and conservationists. We examined the ecological effects of a small hydropower plant (Don˜a Julia Hydroelectric Center) on two low-order streams (the Puerto Viejo River and Quebradon stream) draining a mountainous area of Costa Rica. Operation of the Don˜a Julia plant has dewatered these streams, reducing discharge to 10% of average annual flow. This study compared fish assemblage composition and aquatic habitat upstream and downstream of diversion dams on two streams and along a 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River in an attempt to evaluate current instream flow recommendations for regulated Costa Rican streams. Our results indicated that fish assemblages directly upstream and downstream of the dam on the third order Puerto Viejo River were dissimilar, suggesting that the small dam (<15m high) hindered movement of fishes. Along the 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River, species count increased with downstream distance from the dam. However, estimated species richness and overall fish abundance were not significantly correlated with downstream distance from the dam. Our results suggested that effects of stream dewatering may be most pronounced for a subset of species with more complex reproductive requirements, classified as equilibrium-type species based on their life-history. In the absence of changes to current operations, we expect that fish assemblages in the Puerto Viejo River will be increasingly dominated by opportunistic-type, colonizing fish species. Operations of many other small hydropower plants in Costa Rica and other parts of Central America mirror those of Don˜a Julia; the methods and results of this study may be applicable to some of those projects. Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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