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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #298390

Title: Influence of geomorphology on fish fauna of a small Mississippi bluffline stream

item Knight, Scott
item Welch, Terry

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2015
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Knight, S.S., Welch, T.D. 2015. Influence of geomorphology on fish fauna of a small Mississippi bluffline stream. Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering B. 4:169-176.

Interpretive Summary: The types of fish living in a river or stream are largely determined by habitat features such as logs, gravel, water depth and velocity. Channel erosion that reduces the number of these habitat features will often result in the loss of fish species. This study categorized different stream reaches in Hotophia Creek, Mississippi based on habitat features and connected these categories with communities of fishes. Larger species tended to be found in deeper water habitats while smaller ones were found in the headwater tributaries. Water quality and habitat intolerant species were found most frequently in the undisturbed and habitat complex channels. This study confirms that habitat features are important determining factors in the distribution of stream fishes.

Technical Abstract: Fish were collected from 39 sites on the main channel and major tributaries of a highly erosive stream, Hotophia Creek, which cuts through the loess hills of northern Mississippi. Collections were part of a study to document ecological and environmental conditions of the creek before and during construction designed to control bank instability and soil erosion. A total of 2642 specimens representing 38 species were collected between 1986 through 2003. The bluntface shiner Cyprinella camura was the dominant species of fish and when grouped with other cyprinids accounted for 38.0 % of the total numbers collected. By weight, Lepisosteus oculatus, Lepomis megalotis, Ictiobus bubalus, and Lepomis macrochirus were the dominant species; accounting for 49.9 % of the total catch. Fish species attaining large adult sizes such as buffalo and gar were associated with stream types that contained deeper water habitats. While more diminutive species such as cyprinids that might be subject to predation by large fish more frequently were found in shallow channels. Fishes with specific habitat requirement such as the pirate perch were found in the middle group of sites, that were disturbed by erosion process but that featured the necessary habitat requirements. Sensitive or intolerant species like the Yazoo darter, creek chubsucker and cyprinids in general were more frequently found in the undisturbed and habitat complex channels.