River Connectivity Promotes Diversification of Fish Communities in Gravel Pit Lakes

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Audrey Laiveling
Michael Booth


By Audrey Laiveling, Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies

Advisor: Michael Booth

Presentation ID: 238

Abstract: Campbell Lakes (Harrison, OH) are formerly isolated gravel pits along Whitewater River that have become connected to the river. The lakes were stocked with sportfish by Great Parks to promote recreational fishing, but stocking was recently stopped due to frequent connection with the Whitewater River, especially during periods of high flow. We explored how the lakes' fish community composition reflects increasing connectivity with Whitewater River. Using historical aerial photographs and river discharge estimates, we established an approximate timeline of permanent connectivity and potential breaches between the lakes and Whitewater River from 2003 to 2020. We compared surveys of Campbell Lakes from 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2020 as well as 1995 and 2013 surveys of Whitewater River and Great Miami River. Species and family diversity has increased in the lakes, with non-stocked species increasing in abundance. The lake most isolated from Whitewater experienced the greatest percent increase in number of species, a 250% increase from 6 species in 2004 to 21 species in 2020. Based on an analysis of similarity and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS), the lakes' fish communities are significantly different between years (p=0.001) and are gradually approaching river communities. Our results suggest that the Campbell Lakes fish communities are broadening to include taxa from the Whitewater and Great Miami communities and shifting from lentic to lotic species. Connectivity between the river and lakes can influence fish communities by introducing novel species, and the ecological implications of these interactions should be considered when managing stocked lakes that connect to rivers.

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Category: The Natural World