Effects of seasonal drawdowns on fish assemblages in sections of an impounded river-canal system in upstate New York

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Mohawk River and New York State Barge Canal run together as a series of permanent and temporary impoundments for most of the distance between Rome and Albany, New York. The downstream or lower section is composed of two permanent impoundments, the middle section of a series of temporary (seasonal) impoundments, and the upper section of a series of permanent impoundments. In the middle section, movable dams are lifted from the water during winter and the wetted surface area decreases by 36–56%. We used boat electrofishing during spring 2014 and 2015 to compare the relative abundance of fish populations and the composition of fish assemblages between the permanently and seasonally impounded sections of the Barge Canal and to infer the effects of the two flow management practices. A total of 3,264 individuals from 38 species were captured, and total catch per unit effort (CPUE) ranged from 46.0 to 134.7 fish/h at sites in the seasonally impounded section, compared with 140.0–342.0 fish/h in the permanent lower section and 89.0–282.0 fish/h in the permanent upper section. The amount of drawdown explained 55% of the variation in total CPUE and was a highly significant predictor variable. Mean total CPUE in the seasonally impounded section was significantly lower (by about 50%) than that in either permanently impounded section, and the assemblage composition differed significantly between sections. The relative abundance of many lentic species was markedly lower in the seasonally impounded section, while the relative abundance of several native cyprinids and the percentage of individuals belonging to species that are native to the watershed was greater in this section. Overall, these findings suggest that winter dam removal in impounded rivers may reduce the abundance of fish but may also create more natural riverine conditions that favor some native species.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of seasonal drawdowns on fish assemblages in sections of an impounded river-canal system in upstate New York
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2016.1223751
Volume 145
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 1348
Last page 1357
Country United States
State New York
Other Geospatial Mohawk River Watershed