We investigated present indirect effects from a decade-old burn on the diets of stream fish. Based on soil instability and burn patterns from a 12–14-year-old wildfire complex, we separated 9 streams into 3 conditions: unburned, burned, and burned/scoured (i.e., experiencing a massive scour event 1 year post-burn). In the streams, we measured light levels and water temperatures, and we estimated fish density and biomass. We removed the digestive tracts from 9–15 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) from each stream and used a gravimetric procedure to analyze gut contents. Canopy cover development may dictate the composition of dietary items. Greater amounts of aquatic invertebrates and inorganic material were found in trout from streams with reduced overhead canopy. Further, these streams had lower amounts of terrestrial invertebrates and organic materials in the diets of fish. Although trout abundance was not different among the stream treatments, fire-induced, indirect effects on fish diets were still evident more than a decade after the burn. This suggests that recovery rates for trout assemblages may take longer than predicted and may depend on riparian recovery.
This document was originally published by Brigham Young University in Western North American Naturalist. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.3398/1527-0904(2007)67[429:PEOPWO]2.0.CO;2
Koetsier, Peter; Tuckett, Quenton; and White, Joshua. (2007). "Present Effects of Past Wildfires on the Diets of Stream Fish". Western North American Naturalist, 67(3), 429-438.