The Use of Historical Data to Describe Changes in Fish Communities Over Time
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This thesis, comprised of two studies, investigates the use of historical data to describe changes in fish communities over time. Identifying changes in fish community is important for the conservation of biodiversity. The first study focused on fishes in southeastern Ontario, a region identified as a biodiversity hotspot. The study found a major change in fish community as well as the major drivers of this change between 1969 and 2014. A strong shift from cyprinid-dominated to centrarchid-dominated communities was found and significant changes in water temperature and shoreline use were identified as contributing drivers. The second study explored issues associated with the use of historical fisheries data. In this study, it was found that sampling effort influenced the interpretation of fish community changes over time. The second study also highlights major assumptions currently made when applying historical fisheries data and suggests steps to gain a better understanding of how to apply historical fisheries data in future research.