Despite of structural deficits, highly modified water bodies (HMWB) contain remnant populations of endangered fish that have high conservation value. Restoration in HMWBs underlies different principles when compared to natural rivers because of impaired river dynamic processes. The objective herein was to assess the contribution of restored habitats of the River Günz, Germany to fish diversity and restoration success of target species. All habitat restoration types, including bank habitats, fast flowing habitats with gravel, structured shallow water zones, nature like fish passes, and a former river course below a spillway were assessed. None of them comprised the full set of 27 fish species or size classes, indicating that the diversity and interlinkage of the restored habitats is most crucial to sustainable fish populations and high biodiversity. When considering the rheophilic target species Chondrostoma nasus
and Barbus barbus
, only fish passes and the former river course with their high flow current contributed much to their population development, particularly to young specimens <20 cm. The results of this study indicate that measures inside the main channel are unlikely to mitigate deficiencies in HMWBs concerning specialized riverine fish. Instead, interlinkage of a diversity of restoration measures and investment of resources for restoration in HMWBs into nature-like fish passes or former river courses below spillways with dynamically managed discharges seem most useful.
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