Factors associated with distributions of six fishes of greatest conservation need in streams in midwestern USA
- Many fish species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in Iowa and Minnesota, USA, have been in decline for decades. A key reason for the decline is the alteration and degradation of naturally flowing streams owing to land use changes resulting from agricultural practices. Populations of several fishes have been adversely affected by widespread stream channelization that has resulted in more homogeneous stream habitats throughout Iowa and Minnesota.
- The goal of this study was to determine the abiotic and fish assemblage characteristics associated with the presence of these rare fishes. Electrofishing and seining were used to sample fish assemblages and 43 abiotic characteristics were measured at 111 sites in the North Raccoon and Boone River basins in central Iowa and the Rock River and Beaver Creek basins in north-west Iowa and south-west Minnesota during 2016 and 2017.
- Six SGCN, including the federally endangered Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka), were included in statistical modelling to determine habitat and fish assemblage characteristics associated with their presence.
- Species-specific nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordinations indicated that abiotic characteristics and fish assemblages often differed between sites where SGCN were present and absent. Random forest and logistic regression models suggested that the presence of four of six SGCN were positively associated with species richness, whereas all other 10 important abiotic and fish assemblage variables were unique to only one or two of the six SGCN.
- Topeka shiners were present at 36% of sites and were positively associated with orangespotted sunfish (Lepomis humilis) catch per unit effort while being negatively associated with canopy cover and fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare) catch per unit effort.
This article is published as Simpson, Nicholas T., Alexander P. Bybel, Michael J. Weber, Clay L. Pierce, and Kevin J. Roe. "Factors associated with distributions of six fishes of greatest conservation need in streams in midwestern USA." Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (2021). doi:10.1002/aqc.3562.