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Flow dynamics influence fish recruitment in hydrologically connected river-reservoir landscapes

August 30, 2021

Hydrologic processes are often important determinants of successful recruitment of native fishes. However, water management practices can result in abnormal changes in daily and seasonal hydrology patterns. Rarely has fish recruitment across river–reservoir landscapes been considered in relation to flow management, despite the direct relationship between reservoir water management and the resulting upstream and downstream hydrology. We evaluated the relationships between lotic and lentic hydrology and recruitment of two native broadcast-spawning fishes, Freshwater Drum Aplodinotus grunniens and Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum. Four seasonal periods for each species were identified that related to the species’ spawning biology, from which we derived our remaining hydrology variables. Annual hydrology variables were also considered in our analysis. We developed regression models in conjunction with a model-selection procedure for each species and habitat type based on the catch-curve residuals from fish populations in hydrologically connected river–reservoir systems in the Ozark Highland and Ouachita Mountain ecoregions, USA. Our results indicated that recruitment of reservoir Freshwater Drum was negatively correlated to annual reservoir retention time. In lotic habitats, Freshwater Drum recruitment was positively correlated with prespawn discharge conditions and negatively correlated with annual flow variability. Similarly, riverine Gizzard Shad recruitment was positively correlated to the frequency of high-flow pulses during the spawning period. Our results indicate that releasing reservoir water to best mimic relatively natural flow patterns may benefit some broadcast-spawning species that occupy both lentic and downstream lotic environments, especially during the spring. This information, combined with future efforts on additional spawning guilds, will provide a foundation for developing holistic river–reservoir water-allocation plans.

Publication Year 2021
Title Flow dynamics influence fish recruitment in hydrologically connected river-reservoir landscapes
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10692
Authors J. Dattilo, Shannon K. Brewer, D. E. Shoup
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70227995
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta