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Genetic diversity and species diversity of stream fishes covary across a land-use gradient

January 1, 2012

Genetic diversity and species diversity are expected to covary according to area and isolation, but may not always covary with environmental heterogeneity. In this study, we examined how patterns of genetic and species diversity in stream fishes correspond to local and regional environmental conditions. To do so, we compared population size, genetic diversity and divergence in central stonerollers (Campostoma anomalum) to measures of species diversity and turnover in stream fish assemblages among similarly sized watersheds across an agriculture–forest land-use gradient in the Little Miami River basin (Ohio, USA). Significant correlations were found in many, but not all, pair-wise comparisons. Allelic richness and species richness were strongly correlated, for example, but diversity measures based on allele frequencies and assemblage structure were not. In-stream conditions related to agricultural land use were identified as significant predictors of genetic diversity and species diversity. Comparisons to population size indicate, however, that genetic diversity and species diversity are not necessarily independent and that variation also corresponds to watershed location and glaciation history in the drainage basin. Our findings demonstrate that genetic diversity and species diversity can covary in stream fish assemblages, and illustrate the potential importance of scaling observations to capture responses to hierarchical environmental variation. More comparisons according to life history variation could further improve understanding of conditions that give rise to parallel variation in genetic diversity and species diversity, which in turn could improve diagnosis of anthropogenic influences on aquatic ecosystems.

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