Fish use of stage-specific fluvial habitats as refuge patches during a flood in a low-gradient Illinois stream

John S. Schwartz, Edwin E Herricks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A stage-specific habitat classification scheme was developed emphasizing the ecological importance of habitat space as flow refugia for fish. Habitat units were based on planform and channel morphology and the resulting three-dimensional hydraulic patterns that form during floods. Fish were sampled in specific habitat patches using prepositioned areal electrofishing devices at two high-flow stages, near bankfull flow and one-half bankfull flow, during a flood. Fish were also sampled at baseflow immediately following the flood to compare changes in habitat use related to flow stage. During the bankfull stage, fish were found to use floodplain habitat units identified as vegetated point bars and concave-bank benches. During the one-half bank-full stage, fish density and biomass were greater in low-velocity habitat units identified as deflection eddies and expansion eddies than in the high-velocity habitat unit identified as the channel thalweg. Once flow returned to baseflow, fish density and biomass were greater in the main channel habitat units (pools, riffles, and glides) than in lateral habitat units identified as submerged point bars and lateral backwaters. This study provided a framework to quantify flow refugia in low-gradient streams, which is especially important in the restoration of anthropogenically disturbed watersheds that have lost habitat connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1540-1552
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume62
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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