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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Charles R. Berry, Jr.


Fish distributions and habitat relations have not been extensively studied in streams of Northern Great Plains. I analyzed fish distributions and investigated relations of reach (e.g. channel shape, substrate) and landscape scale (e.g. catchment area) factors to small stream fish communities, in Cheyenne River Basin. Reach variables were measured in the field, while landscape variables were quantified using Geographic Information Systems. Twenty seven fish species from eight families were collected in this study. Fifty eight reaches in Cheyenne River Basin, including 18 from previous studies by others, were clustered into four primary habitat groups (large river, small river, flat stream, and steep stream) using bankfull width, maximum bankfull depth, slope, and median substrate size. Stream clusters had lower fish species richness and community similarity than river clusters. Using relative species composition, nine fish species were classified as stream specialists, whereas eight species were river specialists. To further analyze factors driving assemblages in small streams, the information theoretic approach and a set of a priori models were used to determine which landscape and reach scale factors best predict fish species richness, evenness and diversity among 22 sites in four tributary watersheds (Cherry, Elk, Elm, and Plum basins). Distance to mainstem river (Cheyenne or Belle Fourche rivers) was the best model and overall parameter for fish species richness and diversity. The ratio of impoundment area to watershed area, an indirect measure of hydrological control was the best model and overall parameter predicting fish community evenness. As the impoundment area to watershed area ratio and distance to mainstem river decreased, species evenness, richness, and diversity increased. Small streams were used by generalist fishes, relict fish species, and fluvial cyprinids indicating that tributaries contain habitats for a diversity of fish species. River reaches had the highest richness and similarity scores indicating a stable source habitat for small stream assemblages. Thus, conserving diversity of small stream and river habitats, uninhibited access between tributary and river habitats, and natural watershed hydrology will be beneficial for sustaining Great Plains fishes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Fishes--Habitat--Cheyenne River Watershed (Wyo. and S.D.)
Spatial ecology--Cheyenne River Watershed (Wyo. and S.D.)
Landscape ecology--Cheyenne River Watershed (Wyo. and S.D.)


Includes bibliographical references.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2004 Jeremy J. Duehr. All rights reserved.