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Biological Responses to Contrasting Hydrology in Backwaters of Upper Mississippi River Navigation Pool 25

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Abstract

Water level management in Mississippi River Pool 25 differentially influences off-channel habitats in the mid-pool and lower pool. Hydrologic models indicate lower pool off-channel habitats dry with greater frequency and duration compared to similar habitats at mid-pool. We examined the influence of this contrasting hydrology on substrate characteristics, organic matter, macroinvertebrate, and fish communities in off-channel habitats during 2001–2003. Benthic organic matter standing stocks were stable in mid-pool habitats but lower pool values were variable because of annual differences in moist-soil vegetation production. Generally, small-bodied and multivoltine invertebrate taxa had high community biomass and dominated lower pool habitats, whereas longer-lived and large-bodied taxa were more abundant and had higher community biomass in mid-pool habitats having longer hydroperiods. Fish communities were dominated by cyprinids in both habitats, and mid-pool habitats tended to be higher in overall species richness. Unique fish taxa were collected in each pool, with primarily rheophilic forms in mid-pool habitats and limnophilic forms in lower pool habitats. Results indicate that contrasting hydrology associated with a mid-pool control point directly and indirectly influences biological communities in off-channel habitats. Further, management regimes that promote hydrologic diversity in off-channel habitats may enhance biological diversity at larger spatial and temporal scales.

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Acknowledgments

we would like to thank the many students, technicians, and volunteers who provided valuable help in the laboratory and field, including G. Adams, S. Bishop, D. Butler, K. Byers, A. Davis, K. Emme, S. Finelli, T. Heatherly, E. Horn, D. Keeney, S. Kucharsky, D. Knuth, S. Peterson, J. Rowlett, M. Stone, M. Venarsky. C. Meyer, J. Reeve, D. Walther, D. Strayer, W. Clements and 3 anonymous reviewers provided comments that greatly improved this article. Funding for this study came in part from the Saint Louis District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

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Correspondence to Michael B. Flinn.

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Flinn, M.B., Adams, S.R., Whiles, M.R. et al. Biological Responses to Contrasting Hydrology in Backwaters of Upper Mississippi River Navigation Pool 25. Environmental Management 41, 468–486 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-008-9078-6

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