Predicting the distribution of native stream fishes is fundamental to the management and conservation of many species. Modeling species distributions often consists of quantifying relationships between species occurrence and abundance data at known locations with environmental data at those locations. However, it is well documented that native stream fish distributions can be altered as a result of asymmetric interactions between dominant exotic and subordinate native species. For example, the naturalized exotic Brown Trout Salmo trutta has been identified as a threat to native Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis in the eastern United States. To evaluate large-scale patterns of co-occurrence and to quantify the potential effects of Brown Trout presence on Brook Trout occupancy, we used data from 624 stream sites to fit two-species occupancy models. These models assumed that asymmetric interactions occurred between the two species. In addition, we examined natural and anthropogenic landscape characteristics we hypothesized would be important predictors of occurrence of both species. Estimated occupancy for Brook Trout, from a co-occurrence model with no landscape covariates, at sites with Brown Trout present was substantially lower than sites where Brown Trout were absent. We also observed opposing patterns for Brook and Brown Trout occurrence in relation to percentage forest, impervious surface, and agriculture within the network catchment. Our results are consistent with other studies and suggest that alterations to the landscape, and specifically the transition from a forested catchment to one that contains impervious surface or agriculture, reduces the occurrence probability of wild Brook Trout. Our results, however, also suggest that the presence of Brown Trout results in lower occurrence probability of Brook Trout over a range of anthropogenic landscape characteristics, compared with streams where Brown Trout were absent.Received June 20, 2012; accepted September 25, 2012.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science