Contextualizing macroecological laws: A big data analysis on electrofishing and allometric scalings in Ohio, USA

Research paper by Christian Mulder, Giorgio Mancinelli

Indexed on: 14 Apr '18Published on: 25 Apr '17Published in: Ecological Complexity


Publication date: September 2017 Source:Ecological Complexity, Volume 31 Author(s): Christian Mulder, Giorgio Mancinelli We investigated the influence of different electrofishing methods on allometric scaling features of fish assemblages in lotic environments. The ultimate aim was to elucidate to which extent the structure of fish assemblages is predictable by the three-quarter power law theory. Water bodies across the state of Ohio, USA, provided a suitable data set to analyze the size–biomass spectra of 2051 fish assemblages. For the first time, 41,070 allometric field observations were screened according to sampling methods (i.e., longline, tote barge, boat) adopted for sampling collection. Allometric patterns varied considerably in relation with the sampling method, in turn imposed by the local hydrology and morphology of the investigated water courses, as shown by the lowering of scalings from boatable to wadeable systems. There are several lines of evidence indicating that the chosen type of electrofishing acts as a pitfall for size spectra. Using individually weighted body-mass values as independent predictor of spectra we show that the specific sampling methodology required by the physical characteristics of different lotic habitats influence the allometric outcomes, a novel result that makes universality of community power laws not as straightforward as supposed until now.