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    Author(s): Mark C. Scott
    Date: 2006
    Source: Biological Conservation, Vol. 127: 301-309
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.86 MB)


    The southeastern United States is a center of aquatic species diversity and endemism in North America, but many taxa are imperiled or in decline. Proactive conservation strategies depend on developing sensitive measures of ecological response to environmental degradation early in the process. In the southern Appalachian highlands, much of the region has reforested following extensive logging and agriculture in the last century, but recently exurban development has surged. Patterns of aquatic ecosystem response to these changes were examined in 36 watersheds along a gradient of forest cover from moderately to heavily forested. A linear combination of watershed-scale measures reflecting the extent contemporary forest cover, the trajectory of forest cover change over time, and building and road density were stronger predictors of fish assemblage composition than topographic features. A measure of biotic homogenization relating the abundance of endemic highland fishes to abundance of broad-ranged fishes was sensitive to the gradient of anthropogenic disturbance. Across the watershed disturbance gradient, cosmopolitan species were clear winners as forms unique to the Appalachian highlands were lost Similar measures of homogenization may be suitable elsewhere for tracking early warning signs of ecosystem stress, particularly in regions with significant endemism. Quantification of the homogenization process in response to urban development and other stressors is a promising avenue for proactive conservation, land use planning, and sustainable development efforts.

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    Scott, Mark C. 2006. Winners and losers among stream fishes in relation to land use legacies and urban development in the southeastern US. Biological Conservation, Vol. 127: 301-309

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