Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Daniel D. Magoulick

Committee Member

John David Willson

Second Committee Member

Michelle Evans-White

Abstract

The hydrologic regime is an important determinant of the ecological integrity of a stream. Hydrologic regimes are defined by the magnitude, timing, frequency, rate of change, and duration of high and low flow events and capture long term patterns of variability and predictability of water movement in a stream. Flow regimes influence many aspects of the biophysical environment in lotic systems; therefore organisms have adapted to natural flow patterns. We investigated how fish have adapted to flow regimes at both a population and community level. In the first study presented in this thesis, we hypothesized fish exhibit phenotypic divergence to allow them to persist across gradients of hydrologic variability. We combined a comparative field study and mesocosm experiment to investigate the morphological divergence of Campostoma anomalom (central stonerollers) between streams characterized by highly variable, intermittent flow regimes and streams characterized by relatively stable, groundwater flow regimes and assessed the plastic effects of one component of flow regimes, magnitude (water velocity), on fish morphology. We observed differences in shape between flow regimes likely driven by differences in allometric growth patterns, but observed no morphologic plasticity. The second study included in this thesis investigated the relationships between fish traits and hydrologic metrics and determined how traits are spatially auto-correlated within a stream network. We observed complex relationships between fish traits and hydrology; some traits exhibited different responses in different flow regimes. Trait-hydrology relationships were the strongest in groundwater and runoff streams, but very weak in intermittent streams. Spatial factors described more variability in the distribution of fish traits than hydrologic metrics within and between flow regimes and different types of spatial auto-correlation structured trait patterns across flow regimes. Overall, the results of these studies support the implementation of environmental-flow standards and contribute new considerations to include in the development of ecological-flow relationships.

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