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Tuesday, February 7 • 9:00am - 9:20am
Technical Session. Fish Community Response to a Restored Side Channel and Backwater Area on the Lower Platte River, Nebraska

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AUTHORS: Caleb Uerling, Dr. Martin Hamel, Dr. Mark Pegg — University of Nebraska-Lincoln

ABSTRACT: Large river ecosystems are complex systems made up of a wide range of habitat types that support an abundance of biota. The existence of some of these habitat types (e.g., side channels, backwaters, and wetlands) is highly dependent on the rivers ability to interact with its floodplain. Many rivers around the world are being disconnected from their floodplain due to increased anthropogenic changes to the system. Restoring river connectivity to the floodplain after anthropogenic alteration is often a challenge and the success or failure of these projects can be dependent on a large number of variables ranging from habitat complexity to environmental influence. In this study, we examined the response of the fish community to a restored side channel on the lower Platte River, Nebraska. Specifically, we looked at how habitat variables such as discharge and temperature affect the fish community occupying the side channel. Following the reconnection of the side channel, the fish community assemblage shifted from few, mostly non-native species, to a diverse community of primarily native species. Despite the infancy of the reconnected side channel, an adjacent backwater area had a higher diversity of fish species than the side channel or the main stem Platte River, suggesting that different floodplain habitats may complement each other in providing benefits to large river systems. Continued monitoring will provide insight to determine the optimal type of off-channel habitats to construct for future mitigation projects.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 9:00am - 9:20am
Grand Ballroom C

Attendees (9)