Estimating local stream fish assemblage attributes: sampling effort and efficiency at two spatial scales
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As part of a wider study to develop an ecosystem-health monitoring program for wadeable streams of south-eastern Queensland, Australia, comparisons were made regarding the accuracy, precision and relative efficiency of single-pass backpack electrofishing and multiple-pass electrofishing plus supplementary seine netting to quantify fish assemblage attributes at two spatial scales (within discrete mesohabitat units and within stream reaches consisting of multiple mesohabitat units).The results demonstrate that multiple-pass electrofishing plus seine netting provide more accurate and precise estimates of fish species richness, assemblage composition and species relative abundances in comparison to single-pass electrofishing alone, and that intensive sampling of three mesohabitat units (equivalent to a riffle-run-pool sequence) is a more efficient sampling strategy to estimate reach-scale assemblage attributes than less intensive sampling over larger spatial scales. This intensive sampling protocol was sufficiently sensitive that relatively small differences in assemblage attributes (<20%) could be detected with a high statistical power (1-߾0.95) and that relatively few stream reaches (<4) need be sampled to accurately estimate assemblage attributes close to the true population means. The merits and potential drawbacks of the intensive sampling strategy are discussed, and it is deemed to be suitable for a range of monitoring and bioassessment objectives.
Marine and Freshwater Research