Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Reservoirs are often limited in habitat, and many habitats can be lost through natural decomposition, sedimentation, and as reservoir water elevations changes as reservoirs age. Aquatic managers recognize the importance of maintaining habitat in reservoirs and habitat augmentation projects are common. However, this study was designed to improve understanding surrounding the placement and use of added structures by exploring the following objectives: 1) Quantify the availability of different habitats and how that availability changes under different reservoir elevations; 2) Compare fish assemblages around different habitats; 3) Compare sportfish relative abundance and total lengths between habitats; of Harlan County Reservoir, and 4) Compare fish taxa present between introduced cedar brush piles and Georgia cubes to control sites at Harlan County Reservoir, East Twin Lake, and Red Cedar Reservoir) over three seasons . I was able to estimate that habitat covered 7% of Gremlin Cove in Harlan County Reservoir. Electrofishing efforts over habitat resulted in 22 taxa captured, and a Chi-square test of homogeneity for specific sport fish species showed unequal distributions around habitats (p ≤ 0.03), suggesting individual species use habitats differently. Finally, during comparison of introduced habitat and control sites, a generalized linear mixed model determined Bluegill was the only species to demonstrate a difference in abundance over different habitats. Fish counts were higher in fall compared to the other seasons. The results of this work suggest that determination of existing habitat distribution can be important before initiating a habitat augmentation project. Additionally, evaluation efforts should consider a multitude of fish taxa and encompass longer timeframes to conduct these evaluations as differences in use can be noted for fish species and temporally by season.
Schriener, William Michael, "Evaluating Sport Fish Use of Natural and Introduced Habitats in Nebraska Reservoirs" (2023). Biology Theses, Dissertations, and Student Creative Activity. 12.