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Predicting the ecological consequences of river management for a riverine cyprinid fish

Current river management seeks to resolve a compromise between stakeholder interests, ecosystem services provision and conservation aims, especially in relation to assessment of ecosystem health. While management decisions should be evidenced-based, current population and habitat models fail to incorporate fish behaviour and the interactions between fish and their environment, thus limiting their ability to predict management-relevant, population responses to environmental change. In order to address these weaknesses, an individual-based model is developed and parameterised to predict the distribution and growth of roach (Rutilus rutilus), a common, generalist, freshwater fish; known to be typically dominant in heavily modified rivers. Such a model seeks to build on current management models and practices, with emphasis on improving recruitment of juvenile roach. Virtual forager parameters are derived from foraging experiments, published investigations, models of roach behaviour and bioenergetics. Data collected from field studies in a typical, highly modified, lowland river are used to describe the environment and initial fish population with subsequent data on fish population trends used to validate the IBM, under a pattern-oriented modelling approach; specifically growth rate and habitat distribution patterns. River management practices including the removal of in-stream aquatic macrophytes and regulation of flow regime for flood risk management are predicted as potentially damaging to roach recruitment, subsequent year-class strength and therefore, populations in subsequent years. Recommendations for more sympathetic management schemes are provided. The modelling framework described here can be used to produce robust predictions of roach population patterns in riverine habitats and allows the user to test the impact of environmental change on cyprinid fish, enabling the modelling system to be used to develop proactive, evidence-based management in light of current rates of environmental change.
Date January 2014
CreatorsMurray, Gregory P. D.
PublisherBournemouth University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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