The effects of limnological features on fish assemblages of 14 Spanish reservoirs

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The relationship of water quality and fish assemblages has been poorly documented in European reservoirs, despite being important for water management and ecological monitoring. We sampled the fish assemblages of 14 Spanish reservoirs by boat electrofishing in the littoral and multi-mesh gillnets in the limnetic zone. Simultaneously, we assembled eight physical descriptors and we measured 20 water quality features of the reservoirs. Multivariate analysis (ordination methods and generalised additive models) showed that altitude and trophic state (indicated by chlorophyll or nutrient concentrations) independently explained most of the variation of fish assemblages in these reservoirs. The most eutrophic reservoirs were dominated by common carp (Cyprinus carpio) whereas oligotrophic reservoirs presented other fish species intolerant to pollution rather native (such as brown trout, Salmo trutta). The absolute and relative abundance of common carp was strongly related to the trophic state of the reservoir and 40% of its variation was explained by total phosphorous concentration. Despite clear changes in species composition, there was no significant effect of water quality on overall fish richness or Shannon's diversity, suggesting that for such low richness assemblages species composition is a better indicator of cultural eutrophication of reservoirs than fish diversity ​
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