Spatial patterns of the biological traits of freshwater fish communities in south‐west France

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Spatial patterns in the combinations of biological traits of fish communities were studied in the Garonne River system (57 000 km2, south‐west France). Fish species assemblages were recorded at 554 sampling sites, and the biological traits of species were described using a fuzzy‐coding method. A co‐inertia analysis of species distributions and biological traits identified some spatial patterns of species trait combinations. Fish species richness progressively increased from up‐ to downstream sections, and the longitudinal patterns of fish assemblages partitioned the river into clear biogeographic areas, such as the brown trout Salmo trutta(headwater streams), the grayling Thymallus thymallus, the barbel Barbus barbus and the bream Abramis brama zones (most downstream sections), which fitted with Huet's well‐known zonation for western European rivers. Only a few biological traits, chiefly related to life‐history attributes, significantly influenced the observed fish distributions. Fecundity, potential size, maximum age and reproductive factor increased from headwater to plain reaches. As a theoretical framework for assessing and predicting the functional organization of stream fish communities, spatial variations in species traits can be related to habitat conditions, thus providing explicit spatial schemes that may be useful to the design of both scientific studies and river management.

Keywords: bioassessment; biological traits; classification; co‐inertia analysis; fish; streams

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Laboratoire d’Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes, UMR 5177 CNRS/UPS, Université Paul Sabatier; 118, Route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse, France

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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