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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


This study was conducted to gather information regarding fish habitat in the James River, SD. Fish abundances were quantified and compared among habitats created by large, instream features. Four physically complex habitat features were studied: hardbottom (areas of gravel or rubble substrate), snags (woody debris), low-head dams and rock-crossings, and tributary confluences. River reaches lacking instream features (i.e. physically simple habitats) served as references. Fish were sampled with double-wing trap nets and beach seines from May to August, 1989 and 1990. A total of 57 sites were sampled. Sampling efficiency was estimated for each habitat using rotenone and mark-recapture procedures. Correction factors, proportional to sampling efficiency, were used to minimize inherent sampling biases among habitats. Density (no./hectare) and biomass (kg/hectare) were calculated for three species assemblages: primary game fish, secondary game fish, and non-game fish. Adult density of all species assemblages combined was higher in the complex habitats (1,760 fish/hectare) than the simple habitats (934 fish/hectare). Patterns in juvenile density were not distinct between complex and simple habitats, and seemed to be more dependent on temporal changes than habitat conditions. Some juvenile fishes appeared to be restricted to certain habitats, possibly due to strict food requirements, whereas others, with less strict food requirements, were able to take advantage of habitats which allowed them to avoid predators and still obtain adequate food. Among the complex habitats, density was generally highest in snag habitat, particularly for primary game fish (748 fish/hectare in snag habitat versus 144, 242, and 107 fish/hectare in hardbottom, low-head dam, and tributary confluence habitats, respectively). Abundance of secondary game fish was relatively high in tributary confluence habitat. Results of study support the concept that instream features that contribute to habitat complexity are important fish habitats in prairie streams. However, their influence on the fish community may be secondary to that of temporal environmental variability, especially for juvenile fish. Efforts should be made to preserve habitat complexity during restoration of warmwater streams. Removal of snags be limited to snags that are severely obstructing flow or threatening bridges, roads, or other structures.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Fishes -- James River (N.D. and S.D.) -- Habitat
Fishes -- James River (N.D. and S.D.) -- Geographical distribution


Includes bibliographical references (page 43-47)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1992 Richard J. Walsh. All rights reserved.