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Open AccessArticle

River-Wide Habitat Availability for Fish Habitat Guilds: Implications for In-Stream Flow Protection

1
Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1200 N. University Dr., Pine Bluff, AR 71601, USA
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School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 3310 Holdrege St, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
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Department of River Fisheries, S. Sakowicz Inland Fisheries Institute, 10-719 Olsztyn, Poland
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Rushing Rivers Institute, 592 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(6), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061132
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 22 May 2019 / Accepted: 28 May 2019 / Published: 30 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Flows, Climate change and River Hydromorphology)
The variation in river discharge alters habitat heterogeneity with implications for the distribution of fish species with different habitat requirements. Assessments of habitat availability following changes in river discharge are difficult to apply at broad spatial scales and with relevance to multiple species. We used a MesoHABSIM modeling approach to quantify river-wide changes in habitat availability for five fish habitat guilds under three river discharge levels along the Niobrara River, NE, USA. We used a time-series of river discharge (1958–2010) to create uniform continuous under-threshold habitat duration curves that identified habitat conditions that may result in periods of stress for fish communities along the Niobrara River. Habitat availability for each fish habitat guild was dependent on river discharge and location along the river. Habitat availability for fish habitat guilds ranged from 5% to 49% of the total channel area suggesting habitat availability may, at times, be limited. We provide river discharge guidelines for bioperiods that limit the frequency and duration of stressful habitat conditions. Understanding interactions between river discharge and habitat availability through time and at river-wide scales may aid in managing for ecological integrity by including protection of river discharge variability to support multiple fish habitat guilds. View Full-Text
Keywords: habitat; flow regime; river; fish; guild; MesoHABSIM habitat; flow regime; river; fish; guild; MesoHABSIM
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MDPI and ACS Style

Spurgeon, J.; Pegg, M.; Parasiewicz, P.; Rogers, J. River-Wide Habitat Availability for Fish Habitat Guilds: Implications for In-Stream Flow Protection. Water 2019, 11, 1132.

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