Prairie stream fish communities have been monitored seasonally at multiple sites within the Kings Creek watershed since 1995. The objective of this sampling is to evaluate how these communities respond to seasonal and annual variation in environmental conditions. Specifically, we are interesting in testing the resistance and resilience of stream communities in response to flood and drought disturbances. One site in a downstream perennial reach of the watershed has been sampled since 1995. Five sites have been sampled in smaller tributaries in the watershed, two were discontinued due to often lack of flow, two have been sampled since 1995 and one was added in 2008. Sampling is conducted with backpack electrofishing with at least one person dip netting. At each site, multiple habitats (pools and riffles) are sampled. Length of all fish and crayfish are measured.
Research on intact tallgrass prairie can provide information for conservation and management by describing conditions under which native species evolved. Our study aim is to quantify the distribution, density, abundance and size structure of fishes in protected tallgrass prairie stream watersheds in Kings Creek and identify ecological factors that influence fish species or community structure.
METHODS (field): Fishes were sampled with single-pass backpack electrofishing with two netters in May, August and November 1-3 pools and 1-3 riffles at each site (depending on reach stream structure). In each pool and riffle, discharge, substrate, depth, velocity, width and percent canopy cover were measured along 3 transects. Depth (m), current velocity (m/s taken at 60% depth, using a Marsh-McBirney Model 2000 flowmeter) and substrate size-class (based on modified Wentworth scale; Cummins, 1962) were quantified at 5 points along the width of each transect. Substrate size classes were numerically scored [1 (clay/bedrock), 2 (silt), 3 (sand), 4 (gravel), 5 (pebble), 6 (cobble) and 7 (boulder)] to give an average size for each habitat sampled. Percent canopy cover was estimated by averaging the densiometer readings at the center of each of the three transects per pool. In-stream cover throughout the pool was characterized as log complex, aquatic vegetation, undercut bank, log, brush pile, bank grass or root wads and length and width were measured. FREQUENCY OF SAMPLING: Fishes were sampled seasonally from 1995 through 2007. From 2007 to present sites are sampled three times annually in May, August and November.
Chris Guy, Katie Bertrand, Nathan Fransses, Erika Martin, James Whitney helped with the data collection.
CODES USED (Variable, Notation, Description; e.g., “Season, SP, spring”):
Species codes are formulated combining the first three letters of the genus and species name; CAMANO (Campostoma anomalum), PHOERY (Phoxinus erythrogaster), SEMATR (Semotilus atromaculatus), ETHSPE (Etheostoma spectabile), ETHNIG (Etheostoma nigrum), LUXCOR (Luxilus cornutus), CATCOM (Catostomus commersoni), CYPLUT (Cyprinella lutrensis), NOTEXI (Noturus exilis), LEPCYA (Lepomis cyanellus)
VARIABLES MEASURED (including units of measurement, e.g., Time/Hours, Wind speed/kph): Every fish is identified to species and measured for total length (mm).
We also measure flow velocity (m/s), canopy cover (%), substrate size (1-8), channel width (m), depth (m), sample reach length (m), and in-stream cover (m2).
At each site we also have a temperature logger which collects data year-round.