The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), completed in 1971, required the construction of 17 locks and dams and associated navigation works to make the Arkansas and Verdigris Rivers navigable for barge traffic from the Mississippi River to Catoosa, Oklahoma. We used a Geographic Information System to assess habitat changes in the 477-km portion of this system within Arkansas from 1973 to 1999. Total aquatic area declined by 9% from 42 404 to 38 655 ha. Aquatic habitat losses were 1-17% among pools. Greatest habitat losses occurred in diked secondary channels (former secondary channels with flow reduced by rock dikes) and backwaters adjacent to the main channel. Most of the area of dike pools (aquatic habitat downstream of rock dikes), diked secondary channels and adjacent backwaters were <0.9 m deep. Copyright ?? 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.