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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fisheries-Based Characterization of Demonstration Erosion Control Project Streams

Authors
item Knight, Scott
item Shields Jr, Fletcher
item Cooper, Charles

Submitted to: Management of Landscapes Disturbed by Channel Incision Stabilization Rehabi
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Streams of the loess bluffs along the Mississippi Delta often become deeply cut into the landscape and lose pool, riffle, and woody debris habitat. This loss of habitat hurts fish populations. Knowing what kinds of habitat different fish prefer allows watershed managers to do a better job taking care of our natural resources. To discover this relationship, habitat and fisheries data were collected from 44 sites in 15 rivers and streams located in the bluffline hills from Holmes to Desoto counties, Mississippi. Mid-watershed streams were characterized by shallow depths, sandy stream beds and sparse woody debris. Smaller tributaries contained more woody debris, dense forest cover and pool habitat. Channels located in the lower portion of the watersheds were deeper, with uniform habitats and little tree cover. In this two year study, 14,569 individuals representing 70 species were collected. The most common fish were bream and minnows. Minnows comprised more than 50% of the total catch in mid-watershed streams damaged by collapsed banks and stream widening. In downstream channels, larger fishlike bass and buffalo were the most abundant species. Environmentally sensitive species were collected more commonly in tributaries than in mid-watershed channels. This information can be used by the Corps of Engineers and state and federal wildlife and fisheries agencies as a guide for restoring damaged stream habitat.

Technical Abstract: The loess bluffs along the Mississippi River alluvial plain comprise a unique physiograhical region. Streams of this area often become deeply incised and suffer from physical instability, loss of stream habitat features such as pools, riffles, and woody debris, and lack of stream-flood interaction. Physical habitat and fisheries data were collected concurrently from 44 sites in 15 rivers and streams located in the bluffline hills from Holmes to Desoto counties, Mississippi. Incised streams in mid-watershed locations were characterized by shallow depths, sandy stream beds and sparse woody debris with more diverse and heterogeneous habitats in smaller tributaries in the upper reaches of the watersheds. These smaller tributaries contained more large woody debris, dense vegetative canopy and pool habitat. Aggrading channels, located in the lower portion of the watersheds were characterized by deeper water, homogeneous habitats and sparse canopy. Over the two year study, 14,569 individuals representing 70 species were collected. The most abundant species were bluegill, mosquito fish, Yazoo shiners, and bluntnose minnows. Mosquito fish, bluntface shiners, bluegill, Yazoo shiners and bluntnose minnows comprised more than 50% of the total catch in streams impacted by bank failure and stream widening. In aggrading channels, gizzard shad, bluegill, emerald shiners, largemouth bass and black buffalo were the most abundant species. Shiners, madtom catfishes, darters and other intolerant species were collected more frequently in tributary streams than in mid-watershed channels. Pygmy sunfishes, brook lampreys, blacksided darters, Yazoo darters and lake chub suckers were unique to tributary streams.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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