Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Daniel Beckman


index of biotic integrity, water quality, fish population data, habitat assessment, electrofishing

Subject Categories



The focus of this study was to determine the relationship between fish populations and habitat characteristics in the mainstem of the James River in Southwest Missouri. Establishing a history of the existing fish and habitat populations is necessary to formulate a robust Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI), an assessment that uses a series of metrics to assess the gradient of impact on fish populations due to human disturbances. Boat and backpack electrofishing methods were used to determine fish populations at six sites, and previously published fish-based metrics were tested using Pearson correlation and principal components analysis to determine if they display changes in relation to changes in habitat structure. A total of 45 species from 12 families were collected among sampling sites. The site below Hootentown River Access had the greatest number of species (32), while the site below the Crane Creek/James River confluence had the least (27). Fish community diversity increased dramatically with the inclusion of a riffle sequence and backpack electrofishing in the sampling reach at each site. Metrics that were retained based on initial analyses include native family richness, total number of individuals, species richness metrics (Centrarchidae; darter, sculpin, and madtom species; sensitive species), and relative abundance metrics (tolerant individuals; algivorous/herbivorous, invertivorous, and piscivorous individuals; invertivorous individuals; omnivorous individuals; and individuals with black spot disease or other visible anomalies). Additional sampling and analyses are necessary in order to formulate a more robust and responsive IBI for this specific watershed.


© Jacob K. Waters

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