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Conservation Priorities for Great Plains Fish Communities Based on Riverscape Connectivity and Genetic Integrity of Populations

Fragmentation and dewatering transform Great Plains stream fish communities


Start Date
End Date
Start Date
2012-08-01 05:00:00
End Date
2013-12-31 06:00:00


Keith B. Gido(Principal Investigator), Joshuah S. Perkin(Co-Investigator), Arthur R. Cooper(Cooperator/Partner), Thomas F. Turner(Cooperator/Partner), Megan J. Osborne(Cooperator/Partner), Eric R. Johnson(Cooperator/Partner), Kevin B. Mayes(Cooperator/Partner), Melinda D. Daniels(Cooperator/Partner), Katie H. Costigan(Cooperator/Partner), Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative(administrator), 2012-08-01(Start), 2013-12-31(End), Conservation Priorities for Great Plains Fish Communities Based on Riverscape Connectivity and Genetic Integrity of Populations


Biodiversity in stream networks is threatened globally by interactions between habitat fragmentation and altered hydrologic regimes. In the Great Plains of North America, stream networks are fragmented by 19,000 anthropogenic barriers, and flow regimes are altered by surface water retention and groundwater extraction. We documented the distribution of anthropogenic barriers and dry stream segments in five basins covering the central Great Plains to assess effects of broad-scale environmental change on stream fish community structure and distribution of reproductive guilds. We used an information theoretic approach to rank competing models in which fragmentation, discharge magnitude, and percentage of time streams had zero flow (a measure [...]

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The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between broad-scale environmental alterations and stream fish communities in five Great Plains river basins. Specific objectives were to (1) document the distribution of anthropogenic barriers and dry stream segments in the Platte, Kansas, Arkansas, Canadian, and Red River basins, (2) evaluate variation in the proportion of benthic- vs. pelagic-spawning fishes across a gradient of stream fragments characterized by various lengths, discharge magnitudes, and percentage of days without flow, and (3) assess change in the probability of occurrence for specific reproductive guilds using a set of competing models to test which environmental alterations best explain observed changes in fish community structure. Our study incorporates an information-theoretic approach with aspects of graph theory to illustrate conservation priorities for Great Plains fish communities based on stream network connectivity, water availability, and persistence of specific reproductive guilds. These data are useful for managers charged with conservation of declining fish diversity in the Great Plains, including highlighting specific regions where barrier mitigation or flow regime restoration are likely to be most beneficial for maintaining or restoring fish diversity. This approach can easily be adapted to stream networks outside the Great Plains to address the ongoing global biodiversity crisis facing fragmented and flow-altered rivers.

Project Extension

productDescriptionTwo publications on stream fragmentation

Budget Extension

recipientKansas State University
sourceU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
recipientKansas State University
sourceKansas State University


Spatial Services

ScienceBase WMS


  • Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • LC MAP - Landscape Conservation Management and Analysis Portal

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