Use of fish community data to evaluate restoration success of a riparian stream

Michael H. Paller, Marcel J.M. Reichert, John M. Dean, John C. Seigle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


From 1985 to 1988, stream and riparian habitats in Pen branch and Four Mile branch began recovering from deforestation caused by the previous release of hot water from nuclear reactors. The Pen branch corridor was replanted with wetland trees in 1995 to expedite recovery and restore the Pen branch ecosystem. Pen branch, Four Mile branch, and two relatively undisturbed streams were electrofished in 1995/1996 to determine how fish assemblages differed between the previously disturbed and undisturbed streams and whether such difference could be used to measure restoration success in Pen branch. Fish assemblages were analyzed using nonparametric multivariate statistical methods and the index of biotic integrity (IBI), a bioassessment method based on measurement of ecologically sensitive characteristics of fish assemblages. Many aspects of fish assemblage structure (e.g. species richness, disease incidence, taxonomic composition at the family level) did not differ between disturbed and undisturbed streams; however, the disturbed streams were characterized by higher densities of a number of species. These differences were successfully detected with the multivariate statistical methods; whereas, the IBI did not differ between most recovering and undisturbed sampling sites. Because fish assemblages are strongly influenced by instream habitat, and because instream habitat is strongly influenced by the riparian zone, fish assemblages can be used to measure restoration success. Nonparametric ordination methods may provide the most sensitive measure of progress towards restoration goals, although the IBI can be used during early stages of recovery to indicate when certain ecologically important aspects of structure and function in recovering streams have reached levels typical of undisturbed streams. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S171-S187
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Fish
  • Indicators
  • Reforestation
  • Restoration
  • Streams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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