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

Missouri Project

Development of a flexible mid-sized river habitat sampling protocol to complement fish protocols

January 2023 - June 2027


Participating Agencies

  • MIssouri Department of Conservation

Standardized sampling protocols for fish and aquatic habitat is essential for long term monitoring and assessment of management actions and exist for small (wadable) streams (Resource Assessment and Monitoring; RAM), and Great Rivers (e.g., Mississippi River Long Term Resource Monitoring). Habitat assessments are crucial to monitor habitat changes over time, understand biological responses to changes, and overcome habitat deficits through restoration. Recently the MDC invested in the development of a flexible, standardized fish sampling protocol for mid-sized rivers (Dunn 2019; MDC CA 359 with MU). However, there is no complementary aquatic habitat sampling protocol for these rivers. Current wadable stream habitat protocols (e.g., RAM) are not feasible for mid-sized rivers. MDC managers have indicated the protocol can be used to help regional staff understand if the stream is healthy to explain why native fishes that were historically found at a site are now absent, or to interpret why catch rates for target species have changed over time to identify disturbances such as pollution, mining or lack of a riparian buffer. Therefore, there is a need to develop a habitat sampling protocol that is efficient, at a relevant spatial scale to aquatic biota, spatially referenced, and scalable to address multiple Resource Management and Science Branch objectives. Once developed, the mid-sized rivers habitat sampling protocol could be immediately implemented by MDC in conjunction with the mid-sized rivers sampling protocol.