Date of Award

5-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

English, William R.

Committee Member

Scott , Mark C.

Committee Member

Johnson , Alan R.

Abstract

This research is part of a larger, long-term assessment of South Carolina's wadeable streams funded by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources entitled the 'South Carolina Stream Assessment Project'. Biological, physical, and chemical data were collected for this project during the summer seasons of 2006 and 2007. The purpose of this research was to identify relationships among land use, sedimentation, organic substrate, and fish assemblages in three South Carolina coastal plain ecobasins. An additional focus was to determine if South Carolina coastal plain ecobasins were similar enough in species composition, environmental variables, land use, and measured fish metrics to be aggregated as a single sampling unit for the purpose of future analyses. The primary findings of this research indicated that as natural forested coastal plain landscapes are lost and replaced by human dominated landscapes, declines are seen in the occurrence of large organics, and cumulatively these terrestrial and habitat disturbances result in the decreased integrity of coastal plain fish assemblages. Results of this study strongly suggested that future coastal plain ecological management plans should focus on the maintenance of forested landscapes, particularly at the riparian scale. In addition, results indicated that coastal plain ecobasins showed extensive similarities in land use, in-stream habitat variables, and fish composition, and future studies should treat coastal plain ecobasins as a single sampling unit.

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