Density of fish and salamanders in relation to riparian canopy and physical habitat in streams of the northwestern United States

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences



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density, fish, salamandres, riparian canopy, physical habitat, streams, northwestern United States

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Relationships between density of fish and salamanders, riparian canopy, and physical habitat were investigated by studying 10 pairs of streams. Among vertebrate taxa, salmonids and sculpins were more abundant in streams without riparian shading than in shaded streams. Abundance of salamanders was not affected by canopy type. Densities of both salamanders and sculpins were correlated with substrate composition, whereas salmonid abundance was not or only weakly so. Salamanders were found only at high-gradient sites with coarse substrates, and sculpins were most abundant at lower-gradient sites with finer-sized sediments. An interaction was observed between the influence of canopy and that of physical setting on density of both invertebrate prey and total vertebrates. Among shaded sites, densities decreased as percent fine sediment increased, but a similar relationship did not exist among open sites. Removal of the riparian vegetation surrounding a stream may therefore mask detrimental effects of fine sediment. These data provide one reason why it has been difficult in the past to generalize about the effects of fine sediment on stream biota.

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