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    Description

    Habitat features and relative abundance of all fish species were estimated in 8.4 km of a small mountain stream system before and 11 months after Hurricane Hugo crossed the southern Appalachians in September 1989. There was no change in the total amount (area) of each habitat type but the total number of habitat units decreased and average size and depth of habitat units increased. Transport and sorting of streambed sediments was evident from the increased proportion of habitat units in which cobbles and small boulders were the most common constituents. Large woody debris more than doubled from 228 to 559 pieces/km of stream channel. At the watershed scale, there were only minor changes in the fish community 11 months after the hurricane. Eleven species were found both before and after the storm, and most species were uncommon. Among common species, densities increased in riffles for darters Etheostoma spp., increased in pools for blacknose dace Rhinichthys atratulus, and were largely unaffected for rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The results of this case study suggest that the effects of catastrophic disturbances on fish habitat and populations depend on the predisturbance condition of instream and riparian habitat, timing of the disturbance, and life histories of individual species.

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    Citation

    Dolloff, C. Andrew; Flebbe, Patricia A.; Owen, Michael D. 1994. Fish Habitat and Fish Populations in a Southern Appalachian Watershed before and after Hurricane Hugo. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 123: 668 – 678

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