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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Steven R. Chipps


Since the mid-1980s the geographic range of the aquatic nuisance species, Didymosphenia geminata, has expanded worldwide implying that its range expansion is a global phenomenon. In many cases, D. geminata populations have taken on characteristics of an invasive species and thus prompted global concern because 1) the stalks of D. geminata form dense mats that cover the stream bottom, 2) D. geminata can be easily spread across watersheds, displacing other important algal species, and 3) the establishment of D. geminata has been associated with significant changes in stream ecosystems. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, D. geminata was first reported in Rapid Creek near the town of Hisega in 2002. Following its establishment, standing stock of brown trout Salmo trutta decreased >50% in the impacted reaches. Because Rapid Creek represents an important “blue ribbon” fishery in the Black Hills, this study sought to determine factors that influence the distribution and abundance of D. geminata in the Black Hills, quantify the impact of D. geminata on fisheries resources, quantify prey availability and evaluate brown trout growth potential in D. geminata impacted sections of Rapid Creek, and evaluate biological responses to nutrient enrichment in a reach of Rapid Creek. After evaluating physical, water quality, and nutrient factors that could potentially influence presence D. geminata colonies in the Black Hills at the watershed, stream, and macro-habitat spatial scales, availability of light was identified as one of the most important factors. Narrower stream reaches, reaches with denser canopy cover, and reaches with restricted light abundance resulted in reduced D. geminata coverage in Rapid Creek, suggesting that light is a limiting factor. The other major factor that determined a reduced presence of D. geminata coverage in Black Hills streams was a relatively steep stream gradient. In general, streams with >30% canopy cover and relatively steep stream gradients (> 1%) were found to be less susceptible to D. geminate colony abundance. To examine the association between D. geminata and the invertebrate community in Rapid Creek, macroinvertebrate abundance and composition were evaluated using three gear types in the fall of 2006. Didymosphenia geminata was present at two of four sites sampled (range = 5.53 to 809.68 g∙m-2 dry mass) and absent at the other two sites. At each site, invertebrates were collected using dip nets, Surber samplers, and drift nets. I found that the combined percentage of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera in areas with D. geminata was lower (41%) than in areas without D. geminata (76%). I also found that Diptera abundance was higher at sites with D. geminata than in sites where D. geminata was absent indicating that D. geminata is associated with changes in the invertebrate community. I then evaluated the influence of drought conditions on brown trout biomass in Spearfish Creek, upper Rapid Creek, and lower Rapid Creek in the Black Hills. Stream discharge, mean summer water temperature, biomass of juvenile and adult brown trout, and brown trout size structure were compared between two time periods: early- (2000–2002) and late-drought (2005–2007). Mean summer water temperatures were similar between early- and late-drought periods in Spearfish Creek (12.4 °C early; 11.5 °C late), lower Rapid Creek (19.2 °C early; 19.3 °C late), and upper Rapid Creek (9.8 °C early; 9.8 °C late). In contrast, mean annual discharge differed significantly between the two time periods in Spearfish Creek (1.95 m3∙s-1 early; 1.50 m3∙s-1 late), lower Rapid Creek (2.01 m3∙s-1 early; 0.94 m3∙s-1 late), and upper Rapid Creek (1.41 m3∙s-1 early; 0.84 m3∙s-1 late). Mean biomass of adult brown trout in all three stream sections was significantly higher in the early-drought than the late-drought period (Spearfish Creek, 238 to 69 kg/ha; lower Rapid Creek, 272 to 91 kg/ha; upper Rapid Creek 159 to 32 kg/ha). Juvenile brown trout= biomass from early- to late-drought was similar in Spearfish (43 to 23 kg/ha), declined in lower Rapid creek (136 to 45 kg/ha), and increased in upper Rapid Creek (14 to 73 kg/ha). Brown trout size structure did not differ between early- and late-drought in lower Rapid Creek or Spearfish Creek, but did differ in upper Rapid Creek. These results indicated that in addition to drought conditions, D. geminata was potentially associated with observed changes in brown trout size structure in Rapid Creek.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Diatoms -- Environmental aspects -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)
Invasive plants -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)
Nonindigenous pests -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)
Fishery management -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2011 Daniel A. James. All rights reserved.