Large rivers worldwide have been altered by the construction and maintenance of navigation channels, which include extensive bank revetments, wing dikes, and levees. Using 7 years of Long-Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data collected from the unimpounded upper Mississippi River, we investigated assemblages in two main-channel-border physical habitats-those with wing dikes and those without wing dikes. Fishes were captured using daytime electrofishing, mini-fyke netting, large hoop netting, and small hoop netting. Our objectives were to (1) assess associations among fish species richness, physical measurements, and main-channel-border physical habitats using stepwise multiple regression and indicator variables; (2) identify abundant adult and young-of-year (age-0) families in both physical habitats to further investigate assemblage composition; and (3) calculate standardized species richness estimates within each physical habitat for adult and age-0 fishes to provide additional information on community structure. We found species richness was greater at wing dikes for both adult and age-0 fishes when compared with main channel borders. Stepwise multiple regression revealed significant relationships between adult species richness and passive gear deployment (e.g,, hoop nets and mini-fyke nets), physical habitat type, and river elevation, as well as interactions between physical habitat and passive gears, and physical habitat and transparency (i.e., Secchi depth). This model explained 56% of the variance in adult species richness. Approximately 15% of the variation in age-0 species richness was explained by the sample period, sample date, transparency, physical habitat, and depth of gear deployment. Long-term impacts of river modifications on fishes have not been well documented in many large river systems and warrant further study. The findings from this study provide baseline ecological information on fish assemblages using main channel borders in the unimpounded upper Mississippi River, information that will aid managers making channel maintenance decisions in large river systems.
Additional publication details
Relationship among fish assemblages and main-channel-border physical habitats in the unimpounded Upper Mississippi River