Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Melissa R. Wuellner


The Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) was developed to summarize the impact of watershed and water quality degradation to biotic communities and help to provide a more complete picture of water quality changes that are not captured in traditional physical and chemical measurements. In 2014, nearly 15% of South Dakota lakes did not meet their designated beneficial uses based on water quality measures but the impacts to the fish communities are unknown. The goal of this study was to develop a fish-based IBI for eastern South Dakota lakes by addressing three specific objectives:
1) Determine whether an IBI could be developed for smaller lakes (surface area = 100 – 1,000 ha) using extant annual standardized fish community sampling data;
2) Evaluate whether the inclusion of small-bodied fishes improves the smaller lake IBI; and
3) Evaluate whether lentic IBIs should be developed for smaller and larger (>1,000 ha) lakes separately.
Extant fish community data was collected from annual surveys conducted by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks between 2011 and 2015 and were either used alone or in combination with shoreline seine samples from 17 lakes. For the first two objectives, potential metrics were screened to select metrics that best described fish community responses to watershed degradation. The third objective was addressed by applying the IBI based on the results of the first two objectives to larger lakes. The IBI developed for smaller lakes based on extant data alone resulted in four final metrics, (e.g., proportion of Centrarchidae, percent insectivores, percent intolerant species, and proportion of Ictaluridae) and was not improved with the inclusion of smaller-bodied fish collection data. Further, there was no difference between the performance of IBIs developed for smaller and larger lakes. These results show that lentic IBIs may be developed based on extant data with no additional sampling required. Thus, a history of IBI trends may be calculated for eastern South Dakota lakes to evaluate fish community changes in response to watershed land-use over time. Such long-term data may be used to identify and prioritize interventions that may improve water quality and fish communities.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water quality biological assessment -- South Dakota.
Ecological integrity -- South Dakota.
Fish communities -- South Dakota.
Lake ecology -- South Dakota.


Includes bibliographical references.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright