Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Iowa
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Iowa Project

An Index of Oxbow Restoration Quality for Topeka Shiners Based on the Fish Assemblage

January 2019 - December 2021


Participating Agencies

  • Iowa Soybean Association

Restored oxbows are important habitats for the endangered Topeka shiner, but because of their rarity, the “signal” associated with presence of Topeka shiners in restored oxbows is weak. While the value of restored oxbows is increasingly recognized and the pace of oxbow restoration programs is accelerating, difficulty in accurately assessing restoration effectiveness poses a significant roadblock for evaluating restoration methods. For assessing the quality and conservation value of restored oxbows, conservation decision-makers need a better tool than simply relying on the presence or abundance of Topeka Shiners in samples. Numerous agencies are partners in this research and will benefit from its results, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, The Iowa Soybean Association, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The purpose of this study is to develop an index of oxbow restoration quality for conservation of endangered Topeka shiners based on characteristics of the fish assemblage. The index will enable evaluation of oxbow restorations when direct methods, such as documenting presence or increased abundance of Topeka shiners, are not possible.