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Road crossing designs and their impact on fish assemblages of Great Plains streams

January 1, 2010

A mark-recapture field study was conducted to determine fish passage at 5 concrete box culverts and 5 low-water crossings (concrete slabs vented by culverts) as well as 10 control sites (below a natural riffle) in Flint Hills streams of northeastern Kansas. Additionally, we tested the upstream passage of four fish species native to Great Plains streams (Topeka shiner Notropis topeka, green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus, red shiner Cyprinella lutrensis, and southern redbelly dace Phoxinus erythrogaster) through three simulated crossing designs (box culverts, round corrugated culverts, and natural rock riffles) at water velocities of 0.1 to 1.1 m/s in an experimental stream. The field study indicated that cyprinids were twice as likely to move upstream of box culverts than low-water crossings and 1.4 times as likely to move upstream of control reaches than any crossing type. The best models indicated that the proportion of cyprinids that moved upstream increased with decreased culvert slope and length, perching, and increased culvert width. Our controlled experiment indicated that fish can move through velocities up to 1.1 m/s in a 1.86-m simulated stream and that the proportion of fish that moved upstream did not differ among crossing designs for southern redbelly dace, green sunfish, or Topeka shiner; however, natural rock riffles had lower proportional movements (mean = 0.19) than the box (0.38) or corrugated culvert designs (0.43) for red shiners. Water velocity did not affect the proportional upstream movement of any species except that of Topeka shiners, which increased with water velocity. Crossing design alone may not determine fish passage, and water velocities up to 1.1 m/s may not affect the passage of many Great Plains fishes. Barriers to fish movement may be the result of other factors (e.g., perching, slope, and crossing length). The use of properly designed and installed crossings has promise in conserving Great Plains stream fishes.

Publication Year 2010
Title Road crossing designs and their impact on fish assemblages of Great Plains streams
DOI 10.1577/T09-040.1
Authors Wesley W. Bouska, Craig P. Paukert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70150457
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta