Kansas State University
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Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

Kristen Pitts (2004)- Effects of flooding on the fish distribution on Kings Creek, Kansas. (Mentor: Craig Paukert)

Hydrologic disturbances are quite common in prairie streams, sometimes resulting in extremes such as complete loss of surface water during dry periods and reconfiguration of stream geomorphology during intense rains. Such variability affects the fish species that inhabit the stream, especially their distribution through increased connectivity and flow. We sampled Kings Creek, using a backpack electrofishing unit, to determine fish distribution on three separate occasions throughout a late spring-early summer flood series. We looked specifically at the relations between flood stage and reach on catch rates. Stream reaches were determined as the stretch of the creek between road culverts. Emphasis was placed on the general trends of the three minnow species that make up the majority of the fish population; Semotilus atromaculatus, Campostoma anomalum, and Phoxinus erythrogaster. We also marked 405 fish prior to the first flood by making subcutaneous injections of acrylic paint that were site-specifically colored. We had 8 recaptures following the first flood and one following the larger floods, showing a variety of movement. Analysis of variance tests show that before and after the floods tend to have higher abundances than in between the floods, suggesting fish get washed downstream following a flood and make their way back upstream soon after. Due to high standard error, no concrete conclusions were determined from the barrier study. However, floods were found to have a significant affect on fish distribution in the short term.