Habitat Improvement Projects for Stream and Oxbow Fish of Greatest Conservation Need

Project

Principal Investigator: Clay L. PierceMichael Weber and Kevin Roe

Student Investigator: Alexander Bybel (M.S.) and Courtney Zambory (M.S.) Oxbow Identification ArcGIS Toolbox

Collaborators: Richard Baker (MN DNR), Karen Kinkead (IDNR), Aleshia Kenney (USFWS), Todd Kolander (MN DNR)

Duration:  January 2016 to June 2018

Funding Source(s): Iowa Department of Natural Resources, SWG-C

 

Goals and Objectives:

This project will focus on habitat restorations and responses of stream fish of greatest conservation need (SGCN), specifically Topeka shiners (Notropis topeka) and plains topminnows (Fundulus sciadicus).  Extensive GIS analysis using a new, state-of-the-art framework will be undertaken to assist in guiding current and future restoration efforts.  Monitoring of the fish populations in an adaptive management approach will be necessary to ensure fish are responding as expected to efforts to increase and improve their habitat.  Additional SGCN potentially benefitting from the work include banded darters (Etheostoma zonale), blacknose shiners (Notropis heterolepsis), Iowa darters (Etheostoma exile), blackside darters (Percina maculate), longnose dace (Rhinichthys cataractae), slenderhead darters (Percina phoxocephala), slender madtoms (Noturus exilis), southern redbelly dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster), tadpole madtoms (Noturus gyrinus), and trout perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus).  We will survey at least 20 sites in Iowa and Minnesota for Topeka shiners, plains topminnows, and habitat.  Data will be collected on all fish species encountered.  Genetic analysis of Topeka shiners and plains topminnows will be conducted through the use of microsatellite markers.

Extensive GIS analysis using a new, state-of-the-art framework will be undertaken to assist in guiding current and future restoration efforts.  Monitoring of the fish populations in an adaptive management approach will be necessary to ensure fish are responding as expected to efforts to increase and improve their habitat. Species occurrence databases from both states will be compiled and combined to reveal locations where the two species have been documented as occurring.  Minnesota’s Watershed Health Assessment Framework (WHAF) will be used in MN portions of the project area, and WHAF will be implemented in Iowa portions utilizing existing geospatial resources.

Progress:

Topeka shiners were found in 36 of the 79 Sites sampled in Iowa and Minnesota in 2017. Genetic samples from 604 Topeka shiners have been extracted and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is currently be run at 13 polymorphic loci. The 2017 field season is currently in progress.

The graduate student, Courtney Zambory, has completed entry of all Topeka Shiner presence records (historical and present) in a master database and developed a database for comprehensive entry of this project’s data. Using the ACPF (Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework) tool delivered by the USDA she has generated 2m resolution LiDAR derived, hydrocorrected stream networks for both the Boone and North Raccoon River Watersheds as well as new and accurate stream reach slope, order, link, and sinuosity calculations for each reach. A GIS script has been created to identify historical stream meanders and current oxbow lakes as potential restoration sites in both the Boone and North Raccoon River watersheds.  Statistical analysis has begun to identify correlations between Topeka Shiner presence/absence in oxbows and the surrounding landscape variables.

Future Plans:

Field work will continue through the summer of 2017. DNA extraction of new samples and PCR will continue into the fall. Analysis of genetic data will begin following the field season.

Future work to be completed this spring and summer include: continuation of statistical analysis of landscape variable data, complete the Watershed Health Assessment Framework for Iowa, acquire LiDAR data for the Minnesota portion of the Rock River Watershed, and begin processing of historical color-infrared imagery to investigate off-channel habitat levels of connectivity. Additionally, there is a tentative plan to collect some off-channel habitat connectivity measurements this summer of oxbows to include as a landscape variable.

Annual Progress Reports:

Habitat Improvement Projects for Stream and Oxbow Fish of Greatest Conservation Need - 2017 Annual Progress Report

Toolbox and User Guide:

toolbox.zip

Duration: 
12/29/2015 to 06/30/2018