The Big Thicket National Preserve comprises 39,300 hectares in the form of nine preserve units connected by four stream corridor units (with two more corridor units proposed) distributed over the lower Neches and Trinity River Basins of southeastern Texas.
Fish and benthic macroinvertebrate data were collected at 15 stream sites (reaches) in the preserve during 1999?2001 for a baseline assessment and a comparison of communities among stream reaches.
The fish communities in the preserve were dominated by minnows (family Cyprinidae) and sunfishes (family Centrarchidae). Reaches with smaller channel sizes generally had higher fish species richness than the larger reaches in the Neches River and Pine Island Bayou units of the preserve. Fish communities in geographically adjacent reaches were most similar in overall community structure. The blue sucker, listed by the State as a threatened species, was collected in only one reach?a Neches River reach a few miles downstream from the Steinhagen Lake Dam.
Riffle beetles (family Elmidae) and midges (family Chironomidae) dominated the aquatic insect communities at the 14 reaches sampled for aquatic insects in the preserve. The Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) Index, an index sensitive to water-quality degradation, was smallest at the Little Pine Island Bayou near Beaumont reach that is in a State 303(d)-listed stream segment on Little Pine Island Bayou. Trophic structure of the aquatic insect communities is consistent with the river continuum concept with shredder and scraper insect taxa more abundant in reaches with smaller stream channels and filter feeders more abundant in reaches with larger channels. Aquatic insect community metrics were not significantly correlated to any of the stream-habitat or land-use explanatory variables. The percentage of 1990s urban land use in the drainage areas upstream from 12 bioassessment reaches were negatively correlated to the reach structure index, which indicates less stable habitat for aquatic biota.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Baseline Assessment of Fish Communities, Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities, and Stream Habitat and Land Use, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999-2001