Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Fish dispersal in a seasonal wetland: influence of anthropogenic structures

Eva Hohausová A D , Richard J. Lavoy B and Micheal S. Allen C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biology Centre AS CR, Institute of Hydrobiology, Na sádkách 7, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic.

B Archbold Biological Station, PO Box 2057, Lake Placid, FL 33862, USA.

C School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL 32653, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(6) 682-694
Submitted: 14 June 2009  Accepted: 14 December 2009   Published: 25 June 2010


Knowledge of fish dispersal routes when exploiting temporary habitat is important for understanding the ecology of species and for designing and conducting conservation and land-management activities. We evaluated fish dispersal in a network of seasonal habitats and a permanent fish source (a lake) in a subtropical wetland, in Florida, sampled biweekly from May 2002 to May 2003. Fish dispersal routes were influenced by (1) local physical conditions, (2) anthropogenic alterations and (3) fish species and size. Fish from the source dispersed into 9 of the 25 seasonal sites evaluated, via temporarily formed dispersal corridors between the source and the sites. Low connection depths along the corridors were a key factor, allowing small-bodied species (e.g. Gambusia holbrooki, Elassoma evergladei) to travel farther than large-bodied fish (e.g. Erimyzon sucetta, Lepomis macrochirus). Fish travelled distances of 0.7–4 km. Anthropogenic structures both enhanced (ditches, sand roads) and blocked (a railroad, soil dumps) fish dispersal routes. We demonstrated extensive opportunistic use by fish of seasonal wetlands. Our results indicated that anthropogenic alterations to the landscape can provide habitat for native fish and also allow dispersal of non-native fish and thus should be implemented with care.

Additional keywords: dispersal speed, fish body size, Florida, freshwater marsh, human influence, minimum passage depth, sedentary and non-migratory species.


This project was supported by the Fulbright Commission in the Czech Republic (Grant ME 659), and by Institutional Research plan AVOZ60170517 of the AS CR. We thank everyone from the Archbold Biological Station for providing infrastructure (H. Swain and the Plantlab), weather data (N. Deyrup) and field support, specifically D. McJunkin, J. Lavoy, E. Graham and O. Gaoue. Special thanks go to S. Poláková and T. Mrkvička from the University of South Bohemia, for help with the statistical analysis, and to P. Cooney, J. Hale and E. Zapomělová for invaluable comments on the manuscript. We thank the anonymous referee and Dr M. J. Breen for their comments. The study was conducted under the University of Florida’s guidelines for animal care and use.


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