Katrina: boon or bust for freshwater fish communities?
Hurricane Katrina was the most damaging storm to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in recent history. Although catastrophic in human terms, was Katrina a disaster for freshwater ecosystems? Were the storm and its impacts on freshwater fish communities “natural”? The naturalness of the storm’s effects on freshwater communities varies depending on previous anthropogenic alterations of ecosystems. Long-term effects will further depend on human actions following the storm. Although many fish, especially near the coast, were killed, populations are expected to rebound. In addition, the storm will leave an extremely beneficial ecological legacy in the form of copious wood (trees and root wads) deposited in streams and rivers, where it will provide vital habitat complexity for years to come.