Comparing fish assemblages and trophic ecology of permanent and intermittent reaches in a Mediterranean stream

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Mediterranean streams are characterised by seasonal droughts, the frequency and intensity of which vary spatially and are expected to increase with global change. We studied the potential effects of drought and climate change on the fish assemblage and its trophic ecology in a Mediterranean stream by comparing an intermittent tributary with two more permanent neighbouring reaches. Although the three sites were dominated by the same two fish species, Mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis) and chub (Squalius laietanus), the intermittent tributary had a lower overall fish density and fewer eel (Anguilla anguilla). The intermittent tributary had macroinvertebrates with lower density, smaller taxa and higher diversity. Fish in the intermittent tributary had significantly lower biomasses in their gut contents (adjusted for fish length) and more negative electivities than those in the permanent reaches, as well as significantly lower taxonomic diversity. These results indicate that there was reduced resource availability in the intermittent tributary, which resulted in significantly lower condition and gonadal weight (adjusted for length) of barbel and chub. The data obtained in this Mediterranean stream support the observation that reduced water flow may affect fish at both individual and assemblage levels ​
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