Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 231–242 | Cite as

Shoaling species drive fish assemblage response to sequential large floods in a small midwestern U.S.A. stream

  • Jeff Scott Wesner


I assessed the short-term impact of two sequential scouring floods on the fish assemblage of a small prairie stream. I tested for changes in fish abundance, fish assemblage composition, and fish-habitat associations within individual pools and across a suite of pools following each flood. Before the second flood, 30–90% of fish were removed by seining in five of eight pools. Overall fish abundance was reduced by approximately 50% following the first flood, but effects varied widely among individual pools. Fish abundance was unaffected by the second flood, despite prior removal of a known proportion of fish, suggesting recolonization of defaunated pools during the flood. Fish assemblage similarity across the entire suite of pools was low following each flood, but varied considerably within individual pools. Defaunated pools were more similar to pre-flood assemblages than control pools, though the mechanism behind this pattern was unclear. Changes in abundance and assemblage composition were driven by interpool movement of two minnow species with the shared behavioral trait of shoaling: bigeye shiner Notropis boops and central stoneroller Campostoma anomalum. Shifts in abundance showed no upstream or downstream pattern, suggesting that flooding allowed fish to move actively among pools that are typically isolated by partial barriers (riffles). This study highlights the importance of considering species’ behavioral traits when assessing the impacts of flooding, and suggests that shoaling behavior may be useful trait for predicting fish assemblage change following flooding.


Flood Fish assemblages Shoaling Minnow Notropis Campostoma 



I thank Bill Matthews for advice and help during all phases of the study. John White and Chelsea Southerland helped with field collections. Comments by the editor and two anonymous reviews greatly improved the focus of this manuscript. Support was provided by a fellowship from University of Oklahoma Biological Station and a Blanche Adams Memorial Scholarship, Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Biological StationUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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