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Keywords:

  • community similarity;
  • connectivity;
  • lock and dams;
  • fishes;
  • passage

Abstract

We assessed the effects of a series of navigational lock and dam (L/D) structures on the composition of their adjacent fish communities. The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers of southwestern Pennsylvania contain 14 lock and dam installations, eight and six respectively, which transform their river corridors into a series of contiguous pools. We selected two targeted fish assemblages, large-bodied fishes (>250 mm TL) susceptible to gill-netting and small-bodied benthic species captured by trawling, for assessment upstream and downstream of each L/D installation. Gill nets were fished for approximately 16 h/net, while trawls were performed across three parallel 2-min hauls. A total of 56 samples were collected over the spring/summers, 2004–2008. Species richness, abundance and the Jaccard Coefficient of Community Similarity (JCS) were calculated for each targeted fish community. Small-bodied species, particularly darters, were depauperate upstream L/D while abundant and diverse downstream L/D on the Allegheny River. However, Monongahela River upstream and downstream L/D communities were similar. Jaccard Coefficient of Similarity values were comparable for both targeted fish assemblages on the Monongahela River, but differed markedly among Allegheny sites. While JCS values of large-bodied fish assemblages of both rivers were strongly correlated with lockage frequency, this pattern was not replicated among small-bodied assemblages. The near doubling of yearly lockages on the Monongahela River compared with the Allegheny may account for the similarity of its upstream and downstream ichthyofauna. Serial L/D navigational facilities on a large river may alter biotic connectivity patterns through physical isolation of adjacent fish communities. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.