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Anthropogenic Stressors

Many of the observed impacts to resident fish communities are related to degradation in habitat/water quality and changes in the land use/land cover of the surrounding watershed.  Vegetative cover and riparian buffers are important in maintaining natural stream function necessary to sustain a healthy stream community.  Studies have demonstrated the adverse impacts to fish community structure and function as a result of loss of riparian cover due to agriculture and urbanization (Roth et al. 1996; Goldstein et al. 2002; Talmage et al. 2002)

Linear regression analysis of NJ Fish IBI Round 2 data indicates a significant inverse relation between the percent impervious cover and Round 2 Fish IBI score (Figure 1).  Stream impacts resulting from urban land use can be complex in nature and difficult to discern.  Urban impacts to a stream are wide ranging and include changes to stream hydrology, geomorphology, water temperature, water chemistry, fish communities, and macroinvertebrate communities.  Analysis of data on the effects of urbanization on New England streams indicated degradation was most apparent in the following biotic metrics: EPT taxa for macroinvertebrates, cyprinid taxa for fish, and diatom taxa for periphyton (Coles et al. 2004)

Preliminary analysis of the NJ Fish IBI data suggests several community metrics appear responsive to urbanization, including loss of trophic guilds and intolerant species.  The most common trophic level changes include loss and often absence of top carnivores (piscivores) and insectivorous cyprinids.

Figure 1. Linear regression comparing impervious cover with Fish IBI Score.




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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 16, 2018

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