Community Ecology of Stream Fishes: Concepts, Approaches, and Techniques

Community Ecology of Stream Fishes: Two Decades Later

William J. Matthews


Abstract.— In 1985, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Knoxville, Tennessee, the symposium “Community and Evolutionary Ecology of North American Stream Fishes,” organized by W. J. Matthews and D. C. Heins, resulted in the 1987 publication of a 30-paper volume. Main themes included conceptual models of life history, zoogeography, or community dynamics; habitat use; responses to stress or to flooding; predator effects; effects of grazing fishes; ecomorphology, morphological plasticity, niche packing, or rarity; anthropogenic changes in fish faunas; life history variation or tactics; and genetic variation or divergence. Numerous papers from that symposium were influential on future research in stream fish ecology. As of 1985, many approaches or techniques now in common use did not exist or were barely used by stream fish ecologists, including gene sequencing, geographic information systems, the Internet, “landscape ecology,” “metapopulations,” “macroecology,” and “riverscapes,” and global warming was not yet a household word. Since the 1985 symposium, there have been two important international meetings of fish ecologists in Spain, organized by Javier Lobon-Cervia. The current volume compliments these efforts by attempting to synthesize advances in the field of stream fish community ecology. Since the 1985 symposium, fish ecologists have adopted many new approaches, including more large-scale and long-term surveys, stable isotopes, and ecological stoichiometry, among others, and linkages among habitat patches, fish effects in stream ecosystems, and effects of climate change are a major focus. This volume from the 2008 symposium includes 24 papers that document progress in stream fish ecology since the 1985 symposium, some of which take new theoretical and empirical approaches to address questions that were unasked or unanswerable two decades ago.