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Understanding how key environmental factors affect fish communities is necessary for sound environmental management. Accordingly, we studied fish species–environment relationships in Finnish boreal rivers. A self-organizing map (SOM) analysis showed strong relationships between the occurrence of 18 fish species and 10 environmental variables (variance explained: 43.4%). In our logistic regression models run for each fish species, the predictive power varied from poor (AUC = 0.67–0.68) to excellent (AUC = 0.96), indicating that the responses were species-specific. The overall best predictors of the species occurrence were the local variables water depth and water temperature, and the regional variables stream size, altitude and annual mean temperature. Our results on fish assemblage types (clusters), identified by SOM, and co-occurrence of fish species, discovered by a hierarchical cluster analysis, reveal insights into the structure of the river fish assemblages. Moreover, our results suggest that the stream size contributes to thermal ranges in which each species is able to occur, which has relevance to predicting the impacts of climate change on riverine fish.

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Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume 81Number 1January 2024
Pages: 52 - 62


Received: 23 January 2023
Accepted: 18 September 2023
Version of record online: 14 November 2023

Data Availability Statement

The data of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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Key Words

  1. boreal river
  2. fish assemblage
  3. species–environment relationships
  4. climate change



Natural Resources Institute Finland, Paavo Havaksen tie 3, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing – original draft, and Writing – review & editing.
Natural Resources Institute Finland, Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
Author Contributions: Methodology and Writing – review & editing.
Natural Resources Institute Finland, Itäinen Pitkäkatu 4 A, 20520 Turku, Finland
Author Contributions: Methodology, Writing – original draft, and Writing – review & editing.
Finnish Environment Institute, Marine and Freshwater Solutions, Paavo Havaksen tie 3, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Author Contributions: Writing – original draft and Writing – review & editing.
Natural Resources Institute Finland, Paavo Havaksen tie 3, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Author Contributions: Methodology and Writing – review & editing.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: TS
Methodology: TS, TV, PJ, TKL
Writing – original draft: TS, PJ, JA
Writing – review & editing: TS, TV, PJ, JA, TKL

Competing Interests

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

Funding Information

The authors declare no specific funding for this work. The research was facilitated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

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