AbstractA method is proposed and demonstrated to specify a ﬁsh community to serve as a target for planning river restoration projects and as an endpoint for evaluating programme progress. Our target ﬁsh community is appropriate for small rivers in southern New England with basins characterized by dispersed human activities. Our study was part of a multi-agency improvement effort of the Quinebaug River in southern Massachusetts and northeast Connecticut, USA. We identify ﬁsh species expected to be found in streams, lakes, and river reaches of the Quinebaug River basin. An expected rank order of abundance was computed using ﬁsh surveys from rivers identified by restoration programme managers as being in a desirable condition for a human-dominated landscape. The rank order of species was converted to expected community proportions following a theoretical log–log relation between species abundances and occurrences in complex communities. Criteria from a committee of agency and water use representatives were inﬂuential in specifying a target community; so the overall method blends policy, objective zoogeography analyses, and theory-based parameters of community structure. We believe the use of a target community can be an important element in the design and evaluation of river restoration where the aim cannot be to copy pristine, natural ecosystem properties.
SubjectsFish communities, Target fish community (TFC), Nature--Effect of human beings on, Human-dominated landscape, Rivers--Management, Restoration ecology
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