Descriptions, Classifications, and Explanations Of Processes And Patterns Structuring and Maintaining Inland Fish Communities
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Factors influencing fish community structure are numerous, complex, and interdependent. Structuring mechanisms of aquatic communities fall within four broad classes (i.e., zoogeography and deep-evolution, local abiotic and biotic phenomena, autecology of individual species, and biotic interactions among fishes) and explain why fishes are found in local and regional communities. The common theme among chapters is identification of patterns that aid in understanding contributions of the four broad classes in regulating fish community structure. A unique contribution of my work is the application of theoretical community ecology framework across multiple scales, from individuals to ecoregions, using descriptive and manipulative field and laboratory experiments. Chapter 1 provides updated drainage checklist and keys for Texas inland fishes, which provides accurate identification of study organisms. Chapter 2 establishes standardized and adaptable framework for assessing and reporting fish-environment associations. The framework was then applied to 11 habitat variables and 146 inland fishes of Texas. Remaining chapters focus on identification of mechanisms that maintain fish community structure, including water quantity and water quality within spring complexes (Chapter 3--San Antonio historical and current fish community, Chapter 4-- Testing expectations of an understudied spring fish community using models and historical data) and biotic factors (Chapter 5--Temperature-mediated feeding between spring-associated and riverine-associated congeners, with implications for community segregation).