Fish Diversity in a Thermally-Stressed Stream
Smith, Timothy C.
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The species diversity and composition of fish communities in the ambient temperature tributaries and backwaters of a thermally-stressed stream were examined in this study. The results were compared with similar data obtained prior to the onset of effluent release into the stream, in order to determine the extent of change incurred in the c011mlUl1i ties due to the direct and secondary effects of receiving thermal effluent from nuclear production reactors for twenty-four years. Comparisons are also made between the fish diversity of the thermal stream and an adjacent post-thermal stream with a recovered fish fauna. Species typically found in first order tributaries were reduced or extinct from the upper reaches of :the thermal stream, notably within the cyprinid minnows of the genus Notropis. There was an evident alteration in the distribution of centrarchid species, especially within the genus Lepomis. Previously absent fish species were found in refuge areas, probably as a result of altered stream characteristics and associated habitat changes. A reduction in total fish diversity was noted, especially with respect to normal adjacent stream systems.