Boone River Watershed (BRW) Stream Fish and Habitat Monitoring


Principal Investigator: Clay L. Pierce and Michael Weber 

Student Investigator: Nick Simpson (M.S.)

Collaborators: Aleshia Kenney (USFWS), Martin Konrad (IDNR), Karen Wilke (TNC)

Duration: January 2016 to December 2018

Funding Source(s): US Fish and Wildlife Service, through the USGS Cooperative Units



Goals and Objectives:

Fish assemblages and habitat conditions in two streams in the Boone River Watershed (BRW), White Fox Creek and Eagle Creek, will be monitored to evaluate their potential as Topeka shiner population sources and conduits for associated oxbow habitats.  Eagle Creek and associated natural oxbows support the only known remnants of the Topeka shiner distribution in the BRW.  Topeka shiners are presumed extirpated from the White Fox Creek sub-watershed, but five oxbows have been restored there for Topeka shiners and three of them have subsurface tile inflow for maintenance of water supply and nitrate sequestration.  The success of restored oxbows for Topeka shiners is dependent on existence of populations in associated streams with suitable habitat.  Our monitoring and assessment results will help guide present and future oxbow restorations and inform potential future Topeka shiner reintroduction to the BRW.


In the 2016 field season, 44 sites, including 27 in-stream reaches and 17 oxbows, were sampled in the BRW. In addition to 17 sites on White Fox Creek and 13 sites on Eagle Creek, we also sampled 10 sites on Prairie Creek, 2 sites on Lyons Creek, and 1 site each on Buck Creek and Brewers Creek. A total of 66,140 fish including 46 species were sampled. The five most abundant species were fathead minnow, common shiner, black bullhead, green sunfish, and orangespotted sunfish. The five most commonly occurring (# sites present/total # sites) species were green sunfish, creek chub, common shiner, white sucker, and bluntnose minnow. Habitat assessments were also performed at each of these sites. Dozens of habitat variables were measured or visually estimated in each habitat assessment.

Of the 44 total sites in the BRW, Topeka shiners were sampled at 14 (32%). This includes 8 in-stream reaches and 6 oxbows. Topeka shiners were sampled at 6 Eagle Creek sites and 8 Prairie Creek sites. Topeka shiner abundance at sites where they were sampled ranged from 1-238 with a mean of 44 and median of 18 per site. Overall, 618 Topeka shiners were sampled in the BRW in 2016, making them the 15th most abundant and 22nd most commonly occurring species in our sampling. Topeka shiner presence in Prairie Creek was surprisingly consistent considering there were only two detections of Topeka shiners in this HUC 10 in two previous Iowa State University stream fish studies since 1997. Despite being our most sampled stream, we did not sample any Topeka shiners in White Fox Creek or any of its associated oxbows.

Preliminary results were presented at the 2017 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska as well as the Iowa Chapter of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Ames, Iowa.

Future Plans:

We will continue our stream and oxbow sampling through the summer of 2017. We intend to revisit a subset of sites from the 2016 field season as well as add many new sampling sites to our study. We will be expanding our sampling to areas not sampled in 2016. Expanding our sampling distribution will provide the best opportunity to detect remaining Topeka shiner populations in the watershed.

We will continue to gather habitat data in 2017 and add new sites and combinations of variables to our models to see if the trends noted above continue and if others appear. We will also begin to incorporate biotic variables such as presence of species, biotic integrity, non-native and species of greatest conservation need in our models to evaluate relationships with Topeka shiners and restoration activities.

Annual Progress Reports:

Boone River Watershed Stream Fish and Habitat Monitoring, IA - 2017 Annual Progress Report

12/08/2015 to 12/31/2018