Reservoirs possess gradients in conditions and resources along their long (deep-shallow) axis, but the response of littoral vertebrates (fish and turtles) to these gradients is poorly understood. We have quantified the littoral vertebrate communities throughout a small reservoir in Southeastern Ohio during July and August using traps, and related community composition to environmental variables using NMDS ordination. Ordination revealed that fish and turtles were broadly separated in ordination space, and three distinctly different environmental gradients were significantly associated with the underlying observed species abundances. Observed turtle abundance was explained by measurements of bathymetry, turbidity, and benthic resources, but none of these environmental variables were a reliable predictor of observed fish abundance. Temperature was a poor predictor of observed abundance for both fish and turtles independently, but when fish and turtles were considered together, it became apparent that there were cold areas of the reservoir where observed fish and turtle abundances were different than in other areas of the reservoir. These results suggest that the predictor (environmental) variables we used were appropriate for investigating turtle ecology in reservoirs, but that observed fish abundance is mediated by factors that were not modeled. The efficacy of using traps, the ecological implications of considering fish and turtles together as sympatric and potentially competing species, and directions for future study are discussed.
Ruhl N., Soski J.J., & Roosenburg W.M. (2014). Spatial variation in the littoral vertebrate community of a reservoir relative to physical and biological gradients. PeerJ 2:e693 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.693
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