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Development and evaluation of habitat suitability criteria for native fishes in three Arizona streams

January 1, 2021

Habitat loss is a main contributor to fish fauna declines in the southwestern USA. Several studies have defined stream-specific habitat conditions that support the growth and survival of native fish in Arizona to inform stream restoration efforts, yet general habitat use of most individual species across the region is not established. Therefore, we evaluated habitat use of four native fishes, Speckled Dace Rhinichthys osculus, Sonora Sucker Catostomus insignis, Desert Sucker Catostomus clarkii, and Longfin Dace Agosia chrysogaster, across three Arizona streams through the development of habitat suitability criteria (HSC). We developed both stream-specific and generalized HSC for each species. Generalized HSC were calculated as the combination of stream-specific HSC for each species. We then assessed the utility of generalized HSC through transferability among study streams. Also, past HSC studies have not considered the occurrence of nonnative species, so we tested whether the presence of nonnative fishes influenced native fish habitat use through logistic regression models. Fish and habitat data were collected along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona during the 2017 summer field season at base flow conditions. We established minimum microhabitat use for four native Arizona fish species through developing HSC. Most generalized criteria did not transfer among study streams due to variation in habitat availability and fish community structure. Logistic regression analysis showed that the presence of nonnative fishes was inversely related to the presence of two native fish species, which could have influenced habitat use of both species. The lack of transferability across streams as demonstrated in this study confirms that only HSC developed in the stream of interest or in similar undegraded streams with comparable fish communities should be used for restoration efforts. For projects to restore native fishes in streams where nonnative competitors will not dominate, the least degraded similar streams without coexisting nonnative fishes can guide restoration efforts.

Publication Year 2021
Title Development and evaluation of habitat suitability criteria for native fishes in three Arizona streams
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10575
Authors Zach C. Nemec, Larissa N. Lee, Scott A. Bonar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70229477
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle