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Abstract

Objectives were to model fish species richness relative to natural and anthropogenic variables in Quantico Creek, a forested undisturbed stream environment, and Cameron Run, a highly disturbed urban stream environment in the lower Piedmont-Fall Line region of the Potomac River watershed. Species richness in all stream orders (e.g. avg. range=2.5-9.65 in 1st-3rd orders) of Quantico Creek were significantly higher than those (e.g. avg. range=2.1- 7.6 in 1st -4th orders) of Cameron Run. Fish species richness in Quantico Creek watershed can be modeled by eight factors: season, stream order, elevation, river km, stream width and depth, watershed size, and percent of undeveloped land cover; and that in Cameron Run can be modeled with four factors: stream gradient, stream flow, water temperature, and percent undeveloped land cover. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that a model composed of one set of variables that represents species richness for a given watershed can be applied to a nearby watershed. Based on potential impacts of increased population growth and climate change in the area, coupled with a paucity of information on the extent of the use of the lower reaches of Quantico Creek as a spawning area for anadromous fishes, we propose that the national park, Prince William Forest Park, should be included as a freshwater protection area for the Quantico Creek watershed as proposed by the National Park Service for 50 other national parks in the country. Data and models generated in our study can serve as baselines in future comparative studies of mid-Atlantic streams relative to changes in system parameters (e.g. human population, corresponding anthropogenic effects and climatic change predicted for the mid-Atlantic region).

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