Ictalurid populations, including those of the Neosho madtom Noturus placidus, have been monitored in the Neosho River basin since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Neosho madtom as threatened in 1991. The Neosho madtom presently occurs only in the Neosho River basin, whose hydrologic regime, physical habitat, and water quality have been altered by the construction and operation of reservoirs. Our objective was to assess changes in ictalurid densities, habitat, water quality, and hydrology in relation to the presence of a main-stem reservoir in the Neosho River basin. Study sites were characterized using habitat quality as measured by substrate size, water quality as measured by standard physicochemical measures, and indicators of hydrologic alteration (IHA) as calculated from stream gauge information from the U.S. Geological Survey. Site estimates of ictalurid densities were collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually from 1991 to 1998, with the exception of 1993. Water quality and habitat measurements documented reduced turbidity and altered substrate composition in the Neosho River basin below John Redmond Dam. The effects of the dam on flow were indicated by changes in the short- and long-term minimum and maximum flows. Positive correlations between observed Neosho madtom densities and increases in minimum flow suggest that increased minimum flows could be used to enhance Neosho madtom populations. Positive correlations between Neosho madtom densities and increased flows in the winter and spring months as well as the date of the 1-d annual minimum flow indicate the potential importance of the timing of increased flows to Neosho madtoms. Because of the positive relationships that we found between the densities of Neosho madtoms and those of channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, stonecats Noturus flavus, and other catfishes, alterations in flow that benefit Neosho madtom populations will probably benefit other members of the benthic fish community of the Neosho River.
Additional publication details
Ictalurid populations in relation to the presence of a main-stem reservoir in a midwestern warmwater stream with emphasis on the threatened Neosho madtom