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

Community Ecology of Stream Fishes: Synthesis and Future Direction

Keith B. Gido and Donald A. Jackson


The broad range of subjects represented in this symposium highlight exciting new advances in the field of stream fish community ecology. Some of the chapters expand on themes (e.g., community stability, species interactions) that were represented in the 1987 publication Community and Evolutionary Ecology of North American Stream Fishes edited by W. J. Matthews and D. C. Heins. Others present research that was just developing in the late 1980s or represents new lines of research (e.g., landscape ecology, molecular ecology, ecological stoichiometry, and riverscape perspectives). Many contemporary conservation challenges are similar to those facing authors of the 1987 symposium, but some of these challenges have escalated because of increasing human population sizes and associated demands on water resources. The extent to which stream fishes have been affected by these issues is well documented in recent literature (e.g., Dudgeon et al. 2006; Jelks et al. 2008), and it is clear that quality research and innovative conservation actions are necessary to halt the rapid deterioration of stream ecosystems worldwide (Angermeier 2010, this volume). In light of these major conservation challenges, the goal of this symposium was to bring together leaders in the field of stream fish community ecology to highlight current advances in the field and pave a way for future researchers. Prefaces for the five main themes of the book provide excellent syntheses of those focal areas. Our review of the chapters and those theme prefaces yield some consensus on important advances and future directions for the field of stream fish community ecology. In particular, the continuing importance of linking patterns and processes was highlighted as a critical objective for understanding and conserving stream fishes. In this synthesis, we will use the framework of describing patterns and process and make recommendations for future direction. We start with a synthesis of advances in understanding patterns and process in stream fish community ecology over the past 20+ years and follow this overview with recommendations for future research.