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Aquatic biology in Nederlo Creek, southwestern Wisconsin

January 1, 1994

This report presents the results of biologic investigations by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources during a study of hydrology and water quality in a small drainage basin in the "Driftless Area" of southwest Wisconsin. The investigation included aquatic macrophytes, periphytic and planktonic algae, benthic invertebrates, and trout population dynamics during 1967-78.

The aquatic community is diverse and reasonably stable with little indication of environmental disturbance. Aquatic macrophyte population (dominated by Ranunculus aquatilis L., Veronica catenata Penn., and Nasturtium offlcinale) varies little from spring to fall. Periphytic and planktonic algae are predominantly diatoms, with the genus Achnanthes dominating both communities. Most genera of planktonic algae originate in the periphyton, but some true planktonic algae were identified. The benthic invertebrate population is dominated by Trichoptera and is a major food source for trout and forage fish. Biotic index values calculated from benthic invertebrate data indicate that water quality is very good to excellent. The trout population is low and represents only a small part of the total fish population both in biomass and numbers. Brown trout are usually stocked annually in the spring to enhance sport fishing, but by fall most trout are wild. The major environmental factors limiting trout population seem to be insufficient cover, insufficient pool depth and volume, and small spawning areas. The wild trout population is highly dependent on spawning success the previous fall.