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Endangered Fish Species in Kansas: Historic vs Contemporary Distribution
Muche, M., S. Sinnathamby, JohnM Johnston, AND Mike Cyterski. Endangered Fish Species in Kansas: Historic vs Contemporary Distribution. Annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas, KS, Manhattan, November 08 - 09, 2017.
Presented at the Annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas
Background/Question/Methods Kansas state has more freshwater fish species than other states in the west and northern US. Based on recent count, more than 140 fishes have been documented in Kansas rivers. And at least five are categorized as endangered species in Kansas (and threatened species in the USA). These endangered species were distributed mainly in northeastern, southwestern, and central Kansas before 1968; however, their occurrence decreased dramatically since 1968 when farming and other landuse change became widespread. In this study, endangered species distribution was analyzed for two periods, historic (pre-1968) and contemporary (1969–2012) using the explanatory variables average annual sediment concentration, daily flow and water temperature, in addition to percentage agricultural land use, urban land use, and the number of impoundments. Results/Conclusions The proportions of occurrence for all species examined declined in the contemporary period relative to the historic period. Also, the variables tested were significantly different between historic and contemporary periods. Decreased suspended sediment concentration and temperature were observed in the contemporary period, most likely related to the increased number of impoundments. Dams are known to trap sediments and release cold water from the hypolimnion. Results show a strong correlation between the absence of the five fish species and the number of dams and average daily flow, suggesting that river flow and fish barriers may be contributors to species decline. Occurrence of silver chub was associated with higher suspended sediment and lower nitrate concentration. Based on this preliminary analysis, it can be concluded that water quality parameters and flow characteristics significantly affected the presence/absence of fish species in Kansas streams. Findings are expected to broaden the understanding of the influence of different water quality parameters, land use/cover change, and fish barriers on the distribution of endangered fish species in Kansas.