US Long-Term Ecological Research Network
Habitat heterogeneity and fish community structure: inferences from north temperate lakes
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We review a broad range of studies of north temperate lake fish communities that quantify the role of habitat heterogeneity and biotic interactions in determining community structure. In community analysis, distribution patterns of species are identified, and these patterns are related to environmental and biotic factors using multivariate analysis. The community structure (i.e., species composition, abundance, and distribution) represents the response of the community to past and current socioenvironmental factors, both locally and regionally. Fish community structure and stability (i.e., constancy or resilience) have been associated with the presence, abundance, species composition, growth form, and structural heterogeneity of macrophytes in various studies. The mechanisms that maintain or alter community structure (e.g., predation, anoxia, and invasion), and their relative importance, differ among communities and vary with spatial and temporal scale. However, models can be developed to predict the abundance, species richness, or species distribution of fishes within and among lakes or reservoirs. Through comprehensive analysis of fish communities, fisheries biologists can understand better the structure and dynamics of the systems they study and manage.