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Oxbow lake fisheries and water quality

Robert Kröger, Steve Miranda

Graduate Student(s):  Dan Goetz, Caroline Andrews

Floodplain lakes in the MAV face high nutrient and suspended sediment concentrations. As such, organisms ranging from phytoplankton to fish face challenges that limit their survival, growth, and reproduction. To determine these effects, this project looks at several aspects of floodplain lake communities in the MAV.

We aim to:

  1. Standardize an improved method of in-situ sampling for chlorophyll-a and turbidity.
    Using two handheld meters, we will relate in-situ measurements to laboratory analyses to determine if sample manipulation or particular covariates are important to incorporate into meter estimates.

  2. Determine if surrogate measures of chlorophyll-a and suspended solids are appropriate for predicting phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations.
    In support of nutrient criteria development and monitoring, applying meter estimates as a further surrogate of total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations will allow for reduced costs and increased efficiency.

  3. Assess spatial patterns among fish assemblages along Bear Creek (Yazoo River Basin).
    Bear Creek, a remnant channel of the Ohio River, directly connects six floodplain lakes. We predict that as nutrients and sediments accumulate near the end of the chain, fish communities will also change. We will use fish assemblages in each lake on the chain to determine if there a spatial relationships along the gradient.

  4. Assess spatial patterns in larval fish communities in an isolated floodplain lake.
    Different regions of floodplain lakes including open water, shoreline, and surrounding forested, seasonally inundated wetlands, may provide varying contributions of spawning habitat for fish species. We will use light traps to observe possible spatial patterns in larval fish distribution.

  5. Identify fish guilds that reflect water quality characteristics in deep and shallow oxbow lakes of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
    Lake depth is important in regulating water quality, of which different fish species have varying levels of tolerance to. By measuring diel fluctuations in DO, pH and temperature, along with in-situ water quality, we hope to identify distinct guilds of fish inhabiting deep and shallow oxbow lakes that may be characterized by different levels of various water quality parameters.

  6. Identify effects of smallmouth buffalo population density on water quality in shallow aquatic systems.
    Water quality issues in shallow oxbow lakes of the MAV may be attributable to sources other than surrounding land-use practices. The smallmouth buffalo (SMB) is a large benthivorous fish native to the MRB. Through feedback mechanisms, we predict SMB will have deleterious effects on water quality in shallow aquatic systems. This hypothesis will be experimentally investigated in farm ponds.

Gulf of Mexico Research

Completed Projects