An important issue surrounding biomonitoring in large rivers is the minimum sampling effort required to collect an adequate number of fish for accurate and precise determinations of biotic condition. During the summer of 2002, we sampled 15 randomly selected large-river sites in southern Idaho to evaluate the effects of sampling effort on an index of biotic integrity (IBI). Boat electrofishing was used to collect sample populations of fish in river reaches representing 40 and 100 times the mean channel width (MCW; wetted channel) at base flow. Minimum sampling effort was assessed by comparing the relation between reach length sampled and change in IBI score. Thirty-two species of fish in the families Catostomidae, Centrarchidae, Cottidae, Cyprinidae, Ictaluridae, Percidae, and Salmonidae were collected. Of these, 12 alien species were collected at 80% (12 of 15) of the sample sites; alien species represented about 38% of all species (N = 32) collected during the study. A total of 60% (9 of 15) of the sample sites had poor IBI scores. A minimum reach length of about 36 times MCW was determined to be sufficient for collecting an adequate number of fish for estimating biotic condition based on an IBI score. For most sites, this equates to collecting 275 fish at a site. Results may be applicable to other semiarid, fifth-order through seventh-order rivers sampled during summer low-flow conditions. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2007.
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Electrofishing effort required to estimate biotic condition in Southern Idaho Rivers