Mechanisms of maintenance of tropical freshwater fish communities in the face of distrubance
Martin-Smith, KM and Laird, LM and Bullough, L and Lewis, MG, Mechanisms of maintenance of tropical freshwater fish communities in the face of distrubance, Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions. Biological Sciences, 354, (1391) pp. 1803-1810. ISSN 0962-8436 (1999) [Refereed Article]
Community resistance to, and resilience from, perturbation will determine the trajectory of recovery from disturbance. Although selective timber extraction is considered a severe disturbance, fish communities from headwater streams around Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah, Malaysia, showed few long-term changes in species composition or abundance. However, some species showed short-term ( < 18 months) absence or decrease in abundance. These observations suggested that both resistance and resilience were important in maintaining long-term fish community structure. Resistance to perturbation was tested by monitoring fish communities before and after the creation of log-debris dams, while resilience was investigated by following the time-course of recolonization following complete removal of all fish. High community resistance was generally shown although the response was site-specific, dependent on the composition of the starting community, the size of the stream and physical habitat changes. High resilience was demonstrated in all recolonization experiments with strong correlations between pre- and post-defaunation communities, although there was a significant difference between pool and riffle habitats in the time-course of recovery. These differences can be explained by the movement characteristics of the species found in the different habitats. Resilience appeared to be a more predictable characteristic of the community than resistance and the implications of this for ensuring the long-term persistence of fish in the area are discussed.