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Ecohydrological index, native fish, and climate trends and relationships in the Kansas River basin
Sinnathamby, S., K. Douglas-Mankin, M. Muche, S. Hutchison, AND A. Anandhi. Ecohydrological index, native fish, and climate trends and relationships in the Kansas River basin. ECOHYDROLOGY. Wiley Interscience, Malden, MA, 11(1):e1909, (2018).
Key points: • Hydrologic index trends in the Kansas River Basin for 1962-2012 were consistent with increasing drought but did not follow climate trends. • Extirpation of two native fish species was significantly correlated to very different sets of hydrologic cues. • Ecohydrological indices could be targeted in restoration activities to reduce streamflow stressors and improve conditions for aquatic species.
This study sought to quantify climatological and hydrological trends and their relationship to presence and distribution of two native aquatic species in the Kansas River Basin over the past half century. Trend analyses were applied to indicators of hydrologic alteration (IHAs) at 34 streamgages during a 50-year period (1962-2012). Results showed a significant negative trend in annual streamflow per unit area for 10 of the 12 most western streamgages (up to -7.65 mm/50 yr) and smaller negative trends for most other streamgages. Significant negative trends in western Basin streamflow were spatially more widespread in summer (12 stations) than winter or spring (6 stations). The negative-trend magnitude and significance decreased from west to east for maximum-flow IHAs. Minimum-flow IHAs, however, significantly decreased at many High Plains streamgages but significantly increased at many Central Great Plains streamgages. Number of zero-flow days showed a positive trend in the High Plains. Most streamgages showed negative trends in low- and high-flow pulse frequency and high-flow pulse duration, and positive trends in low-flow pulse duration. These results were consistent with increasing occurrence of drought. The shift in occurrence from present (1860-1950) to absent (2000-2012) was significantly related (p<0.10) to negative trends of 1-day maximum flows (both species) and indices associated with reduced spawning-season flows for Plains Minnow and shifting annual-flow timing and increased flow intermittency for Common Shiner. Both species were absent for all western Basin sites and had different responses to hydrological index trends at eastern Basin sites. These results demonstrate the importance of ecohydrological index changes on distributions of native fish and suggest factors that could be targeted in assessment or restoration activities.