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