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The ‘‘pond-and-plug’’ meadow-restoration technique, in which ponds are formed by excavating the floodplain and plugging incised channels with the excavated material, is commonly used in montane meadows in the Sierra Nevada. 

To evaluate effects on aquatic habitat and communities, federal researchers studied seasonal movement and survival of fish, as well as food web structure, in ponds created using pond-and-plug restoration on a tributary to the North Fork Feather River, northern California. The consistent presence of three native fish species studied – speckled dace, mountain sucker, and rainbow trout – indicated that year-round water availability supported their survival. Using stable isotope analysis, researchers found that food web structure among sampled ponds was similar and that ponds with higher macrophyte cover had more diverse basal resources. Findings suggest that pond-and-plug techniques can provide habitat for native fishes that can tolerate less-than-optimal water temperatures and dissolved oxygen concentrations.  

Tennant, L., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Willacker Jr., J.J., Johnson, M.J., 2020, Fish Habitat Use and Food Web Structure Following Pond-And-Plug Restoration of a Montane Meadow in the Sierra Nevada, California: Northwestern Naturalist, v. 102, no. 1, p. 30-42, 

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