Identifying Fish Guilds Relative to Water Quality and Depth in Oxbow Lakes of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Author(s): Goetz, D.; Kröger, R.; Miranda, L.

The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) contains a myriad of oxbow lakes from remnant braided river channels that are constantly being exposed to high nutrient and sediment loads via agricultural runoff. These increased sediment and nutrient loads have deleterious effects on water quality, and potentially have intensified variability in fish assemblages. Recent studies of fish assemblages in oxbow lakes of the MAV have provided strong evidence regarding the driving forces behind fish community organization. Depth and land-use have been identified as key variables influencing fish assemblages. Furthermore, water quality in oxbow lakes is known to vary across environmental gradients though has not been linked to fish community structure, specifically pollution tolerant or intolerant guilds. Preliminary data indicates that diel fluctuations in DO, temperature and pH vary considerably between deep and shallow habitats within the same oxbow lake. Additionally, a dominance by tolerant fish species have been observed in shallow back water areas of deep lakes that harbor a diverse fish fauna, suggesting that stressful environments may harbor tolerant fish species and impede the survival of intolerant species. Measuring diel fluctuations in temperature, pH, and DO and using multivariate statistics to relate fish communities to water quality parameters, will likely determine if distinctly different fish guilds are inhabiting deep and shallow oxbow lakes of the MAV.

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1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
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