Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Rapid colonisation post-displacement contributes to native fish resilience

September 12, 2021

Native freshwater fish are experiencing global declines. Determining what drives native fish resilience to disturbance is crucial to understanding their persistence in the face of multiple stressors. Fish colonisation ability may be one factor affecting population resilience after disturbance. We conducted displacement experiments in headwater streams in Wyoming, USA, to evaluate mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdii) and mountain sucker (Catostomus platyrhynchus) colonisation ability. Specifically, we (1) determined whether fish could colonise sites rapidly after displacement, (2) evaluated site-level factors affecting colonisation, and (3) compared species-level differences in movement and colonisation capabilities. Mountain sucker recovered to pre-displacement abundances within 6–11 weeks, but mottled sculpin were still at slightly reduced abundances. For both species, the majority of colonists were unmarked new individuals and size–structure was similar to pre-displacement size–structure. Fish colonisation was best predicted by pre-displacement abundance and an interaction between per cent riparian cover and species identity. The slower colonisation rate of mottled sculpin may relate to movement ability as average daily movement rate and movement extent were significantly greater for mountain sucker. Our results demonstrate that colonisation is one mechanism allowing fish populations to be resilient in the face of disturbance and that species' traits provide insight into fish colonisation capabilities. Experimental approaches provide mechanistic insight into colonisation dynamics, enhancing our understanding of native fish resilience in degraded stream ecosystems and their response to restoration actions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Rapid colonisation post-displacement contributes to native fish resilience
DOI 10.1111/eff.12634
Authors Samantha L. Alford, Annika W. Walters
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Index ID 70228989
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle