Friday July 7, 2023

University of Georgia

The southeast is a hotspot for freshwater fish biodiversity—Georgia ranks third in the U.S. for total number of native freshwater fishes. But development threatens this diversity, and projects designed to offset harm may not have a lasting positive impact on fish, according to new research from a team of University of Georgia researchers. 

Their research has implications for the stream restoration projects required by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the law that regulates adverse impacts to streams and other waterbodies.

“Our broad objectives were to see if there was any evidence of ecological benefits to fish communities in Georgia at compensatory stream mitigation sites,” said Edward Stowe, a River Basin Center affiliate and alumnus of the Odum School of Ecology (Ph.D. ’23). “And more specifically, we wanted to see if benefits varied, depending on whether we were looking at the whole fish community versus just species that are considered more sensitive.”

They found that improvements in metrics like fish abundance and diversity were temporary, with numbers reverting to baseline within seven years of a restoration project. 

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