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Lucie Guertault

Asst Professor

D. S. Weaver Labs 127


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Date: 08/01/18 - 12/31/20
Amount: $45,444.00
Funding Agencies: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Pelagic broadcast spawning fish (hereafter pelagophil) is a threatened reproductive guild of fishes emblematic of the Great Plains. This group of fishes represent approximately 20 species of small-bodied minnows that release semi-buoyant eggs and potentially require substantial lengths of free-flowing river to successfully complete development (Perkin and Gido 2011). Thirteen of these species are considered of conservation concern (Warren et al. 2000; Jelks et al. 2008). The rapid decline of this reproductive ecotype has been attributed to a range of factors including altered flow regimes (Hughes 2005), and fragmentation (Hoagstrom et al. 2011; Perkin and Gido 2011). Dewatering, combined with other forms of fragmentation (e.g., large reservoirs), act synergistically to exacerbate the decline of pelagophils (Perkin et al., 2015). Stream connectivity is hypothesized to be important for migrations by some pelagophils (Chase et al. 2015) and downstream drift of eggs and larvae (Worthington et al. 2014). High-flow events have been linked to spawning (Bestgen et al., 1989; Dudley, 2004), whereas decreased discharges during the spawning period of the Arkansas River Shiner is related to a truncated distributions (Zhang et al., 2016). Therefore, it is likely that several aspects of the flow regime are important to Great Plains fishes and determining which metrics relate to overall population persistence would be beneficial. To improve our understanding of the flow needs for fishes of the Great Plains, we need to understand how various aspects of the flow regime affect these threatened fishes. We need to identify the flows in the current channel cross section that will maintain the habitat complexity needed to maintain eggs in suspension while slowing their drift rate to prevent the eggs from being washed into downstream reservoirs (Worthington et al. 2014). These channel-maintaining flows will be important for ensuring the low-flow channel maintains habitat features that slow downstream drift of eggs and larvae. Therefore, the objectives of the study are 1) to determine flow conditions that promote the variability and complexity of in-stream habitats, and specific flow velocities (about 0.5 m/s) and longitudinal stream connectivity, and 2) evaluate the stream lateral connectivity during high flows, and locate potential refuge habitats.

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