, Volume 765, Issue 1, pp 27–41 | Cite as

Assessment of fish floodplain use during an extreme flood event in a large, regulated river

  • Nick P. Hogberg
  • Mark A. Pegg
Primary Research Paper


Anthropogenic alterations to large, North American rivers have caused widespread changes in river function, and are likely responsible for freshwater biodiversity declines. The fish assemblage of the Missouri River has been affected by decades of homogenized flow and channelization, and these changes have contributed to declines in several native species. Little is known about fish use of altered floodplain habitats in large rivers that have been regulated to no longer inundate their floodplain. We collected fish and habitat data at five locations on the Missouri River, Nebraska floodplain during the largest and longest-lasting flood in over 50 years to understand how fish would distribute themselves across a suite of novel floodplain habitats. We found differences in fish assemblage structure between all but two sampling locations. Differences in the fish assemblage between Tieville Bend and three other sites were largely caused by the high abundance of black bullhead at Tieville Bend. Attempts to relate species abundance to habitat measurements suggest that factors influencing floodplain habitat use are complex, and possibly driven by habitat components not measured in this study. Future work is needed to investigate relations between the fish assemblage and its use of floodplain resources.


Floodplain river Regulated river Fish assemblage Floodplain habitat Assemblage structure 



Funding for this research was provided through Federal Sport Fish Restoration F-75-R, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement.


  1. Allan, J. D. & A. S. Flecker, 1993. Biodiversity conservation in running waters. Bioscience 43: 32–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arscott, D. B., J. K. Jackson & E. B. Kratzer, 2006. The role of rarity and taxonomic resolution in a regional and spatial analysis of stream macroinvertebrates. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 25: 977–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthington, A. H. & B. J. Pusey, 2003. Flow restoration and protection in Australian Rivers. River Research and Restoration 19: 377–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barko, V. A., D. P. Herzog & M. T. O’Connell, 2006. Response of fishes to floodplain connectivity during and following a 500-year flood event in the unimpounded upper Mississippi River. Wetlands 26: 244–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernhardt, E. S., M. A. Palmer, J. D. Allan, G. Alexander, K. Barnas, S. Brooks, J. Carr, S. Clayton, C. Dahm, J. Follstad-Shah, D. Galat, S. Gloss, P. Goodwin, D. Hart, B. Hassett, R. Jenkinson, S. Katz, G. M. Kondolf, P. S. Lake, R. Lave, J. L. Meyer, T. K. O’Donnell, L. Pagano, B. Powell & E. Sudduth, 2005. Synthesizing U.S. river restoration efforts. Science 308: 636.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bischoff, A. & C. Wolter, 2001. The flood of the century on the River Oder: effects on the 0+ fish community and implications for floodplain restoration. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 17: 171–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bragg, T. B. & A. K. Tatschl, 1977. Changes in flood-plain vegetation and land use along the Missouri River from 1826 to 1972. Environmental Management 1: 343–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bravard, J. P. & G. E. Petts, 1996. Human impacts on fluvial systems. In Petts, G. E. & C. Amoros (eds), Fluvial Hydrosystems. Chapman and Hall, London: 242–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bray, J. A. & J. T. Curtis, 1957. An ordination of the upland forest communities of Southern Wisconsin. Ecological Monographs 27: 325–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bunn, S. A. & A. H. Arthington, 2002. Basic principles and ecological consequences of altered flow regimes for aquatic biodiversity. Environmental Management 30: 492–507.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Burgess, O. T., W. E. Pine III & S. J. Walsh, 2013. Importance of floodplain connectivity to fish populations in the Apalachicola River, Florida. River Research and Applications 29: 718–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarke, K. R., 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18: 117–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke, K. R. & R. N. Gorley, 2006. PRIMER v6: User Manual/Tutorial. PRIMER-E, Plymouth.Google Scholar
  14. Cooke, S. J., C. Paukert & Z. Hogan, 2012. Endangered river fish: factors hindering conservation and restoration. Endangered Species Research 17: 179–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Copp, G. H., G. Guti, B. Rovny & J. Cerny, 1994. Hierarchical analysis of habitat use by 0+ juvenile fish in the Hungarian/Slovak flood plain of the Danube River. Environmental Biology of Fishes 40: 329–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Graaf, G., 2003. The flood pulse and growth of floodplain fish in Bangladesh. Fisheries Management and Ecology 10: 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandes, I. M., R. Henriques-Silva, J. Penha, J. Zuanon & P. R. Peres-Neto, 2014. Spatiotemporal dynamics in a seasonal metacommunity structure is predictable: the case of floodplain-fish communities. Ecography 37: 464–475.Google Scholar
  18. Galat, D. L., L. H. Frederickson, D. D. Humburg, K. J. Bataille, J. R. Bodie, J. Dohrenwend, G. T. Gelwicks, J. E. Havel, D. L. Helmers, J. B. Hooker, J. R. Jones, M. F. Knowlton, J. Kubisiak, J. Mazourek, A. C. McColpin, R. B. Renken & R. D. Semlitsch, 1998. Flooding to restore connectivity of regulated, large-river wetlands. Bioscience 48: 721–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Galat, D. L., C. R. Berry, W. M. Gardner, J. C. Hendrickson, G. E. Mestl, G. J. Power, C. S. Stone & M. R. Winston, 2005. Spatiotemporal patterns and changes in Missouri River fishes. In Rinne, J. N., R. M. Hughes & R. Calamusso (eds), Historical Changes in Fish Assemblages of Large American Rivers. Symposium 45. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda: 249–291.Google Scholar
  20. Gόrski, K., J. J. De Leeuw, H. V. Winter, D. A. Vekhov, A. E. Minin, A. D. Buijse & L. A. J. Nagelkerke, 2011. Fish recruitment in a large, temperate floodplain: the importance of annual flooding, temperature and habitat complexity. Freshwater Biology 56: 2210–2225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gutreuter, S., A. D. Bartels, K. Irons & M. B. Sandheinrich, 1999. Evaluation of the flood pulse concept based on statistical models of growth of selected fishes of the upper Mississippi River system. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 56: 2282–2291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heine, R. A. & N. Pinter, 2012. Levee effects upon flood levels: an empirical assessment. Hydrological Processes 26: 3225–3240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hesse, L. W. & G. E. Mestl, 1993. An alternative hydrograph for the Missouri River based on the precontrol condition. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 13: 360–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hesse, L. W., G. E. Mestl & J. W. Robinson, 1993. Status of Selected Fishes in the Missouri River in Nebraska with Recommendations for their Recovery. Staff Research Publications, Paper 22. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.Google Scholar
  25. Jennings, C. A. & S. E. Zigler, 2000. Ecology and biology of paddlefish in North America: historical perspectives, management approaches, and research priorities. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 10: 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones, B. D. & D. B. Noltie, 2007. Flooded flatheads: evidence of increased growth in Mississippi River Pylodictis olivaris (Pisces: Ictaluridae) following the great Midwest flood of 1993. Hydrobiologia 592: 183–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Junk, W. J., P. S. Bayley & R. E. Sparks, 1989. The flood pulse concept in river–floodplain systems. In Dodge, D. P. (ed), Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 106: 110–127.Google Scholar
  28. Jurajda, P., M. Reichard & C. Smith, 2006. Immediate impact of extensive summer flood on the adult fish assemblage of a channelized lowland river. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 21: 493–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. King, A. J., P. Humphries & P. S. Lake, 2003. Fish recruitment on floodplains: the roles of patterns of flooding and life history characteristics. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 773–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li, R. Y. & F. P. Gelwick, 2005. The relationship of environmental factors to spatial and temporal variation of fish assemblages in a floodplain river in Texas, USA. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 14: 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lytle, D. A. & N. L. Poff, 2004. Adaptation to natural flow regimes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19: 94–100.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Manly, B. F. J., 2005. Discriminant function analysis. In Manly, B. F. J. (ed), Multivariate Statistical Methods: A Primer. Chapman and Hall/CRC, Boca Raton: 105–124.Google Scholar
  33. Pegg, M. A. & C. L. Pierce, 2002. Fish community structure in the Missouri and lower Yellowstone Rivers in relation to flow characteristics. Hydrobiologia 479: 155–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pegg, M. A., C. L. Pierce & A. Roy, 2003. Hydrological alteration along the Missouri River basin: a time series approach. Aquatic Science 65: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Poff, L. N., J. D. Allan, M. B. Bain, J. R. Karr, K. L. Prestegaard, B. D. Richter, R. E. Sparks & J. C. Stromberg, 1997. The natural flow regime. Bioscience 47: 769–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Poff, N. L., J. D. Olden, D. M. Merritt & D. M. Pepin, 2007. Homogenization of regional river dynamics by dams and global biodiversity implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA 104: 5732–5737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ramankutty, N. & J. A. Foley, 1999. Estimating historical changes in global landcover: croplands from 1700 to 1992. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 13: 997–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reynolds, J. B., 1996. Electrofishing. In Murphy, B. R. & D. W. Willis (eds), Fisheries Techniques. The American Fisheries Society: 221–254.Google Scholar
  39. SAS Software v. 9.2. 2009. SAS Institute. Cary, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  40. Scheerer, P. D., 2002. Implications of floodplain isolation and connectivity on the conservation of an endangered minnow, Oregon Chub, in the Willamette River, Oregon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131: 1070–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Steffensen, K. D., B. L. Eder & M. A. Pegg, 2014. Fish community response to floodplain inundation in a regulated river. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 29: 413–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sterner, V., R. Bowman, B. Eder, S. Negus, G. Mestl, K. Whiteman, D. Garner, V. Travnichek, J. Schloesser, J. McMullen & T. Hill, 2009. Fish Community Monitoring and Habitat Assessment of Off-channel Mitigation Sites. Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Program, Final Report, Onawa.Google Scholar
  43. Strayer, D. L. & D. Dudgeon, 2010. Freshwater biodiversity conservation: recent progress and future challenges. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29: 344–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. van de Wolfshaar, K. E., H. Middelkoop, E. Addink, H. V. Winter & L. A. J. Nagelkerke, 2011. Linking flow regime, floodplain lake connectivity, and fish catch in a large river–floodplain system, the Volga–Akhtuba Floodplain (Russian Federation). Ecosystems 14: 920–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vorosmarty, C. J., P. B. McIntyre, M. O. Gessner, D. Dudgeon, A. Prusevich, P. Green, S. Glidden, S. E. Bunn, C. A. Sullivan, C. Reidy Liermann & P. M. Davies, 2010. Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467: 555–561.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Ward, J. V., K. Tockner & F. Schiemer, 1999. Biodiversity of floodplain river ecosystems: ecotones and connectivity. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 15: 125–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zilli, F. L. & M. R. Marchese, 2011. Patterns in macroinvertebrate assemblages at different spatial scales. Implications of hydrological connectivity in a large floodplain river. Hydrobiologia 663: 245–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Wyoming Game and Fish DepartmentCasperUSA

Personalised recommendations