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Baseline Assessment of Fish Communities, Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities, and Stream Habitat and Land Use, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Water-Resources Investigations Report 03–4270

By J. Bruce Moring

In cooperation with the National Park Service


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ABSTRACT

The Big Thicket National Preserve comprises 39,300 hectares in the form of nine preserve units connected by four stream corridor units (with two more corridor units proposed) distributed over the lower Neches and Trinity River Basins of southeastern Texas.

Fish and benthic macroinvertebrate data were collected at 15 stream sites (reaches) in the preserve during 1999–2001 for a baseline assessment and a comparison of communities among stream reaches.

The fish communities in the preserve were dominated by minnows (family Cyprinidae) and sunfishes (family Centrarchidae). Reaches with smaller channel sizes generally had higher fish species richness than the larger reaches in the Neches River and Pine Island Bayou units of the preserve. Fish communities in geographically adjacent reaches were most similar in overall community structure. The blue sucker, listed by the State as a threatened species, was collected in only one reach—a Neches River reach a few miles downstream from the Steinhagen Lake Dam.

Riffle beetles (family Elmidae) and midges (family Chironomidae) dominated the aquatic insect communities at the 14 reaches sampled for aquatic insects in the preserve. The Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) Index, an index sensitive to water-quality degradation, was smallest at the Little Pine Island Bayou near Beaumont reach that is in a State 303(d)-listed stream segment on Little Pine Island Bayou. Trophic structure of the aquatic insect communities is consistent with the river continuum concept with shredder and scraper insect taxa more abundant in reaches with smaller stream channels and filter feeders more abundant in reaches with larger channels. Aquatic insect community metrics were not significantly correlated to any of the stream-habitat or land-use explanatory variables. The percentage of 1990s urban land use in the drainage areas upstream from 12 bioassessment reaches were negatively correlated to the reach structure index, which indicates less stable habitat for aquatic biota.

CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Acknowledgments

Methods of Assessment

Geographic Scope and Stream Reach Selection

Fish Community Assessment

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Assessment

Stream-Habitat Assessment

Land-Use Characterization

Data Management and Analysis

Baseline Assessment

Fish Communities

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities

Stream Habitat and Land Use

Summary of Major Findings

References Cited

FIGURES

1.

Map showing locations of biological assessment sites (reaches) and study area, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

2–13.

Graphs showing:
 
2.

Number of fish species collected relative to number of individuals collected for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 
3.

Results of cluster analysis to indicate similarity of fish communities for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 
4.

Menhinick’s species richness for fish communities from 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

5.

Relative abundance of major fish families for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

6.

Results of cluster analysis to indicate similarity of aquatic insect communities for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

7.

Number of aquatic insect taxa collected relative to the number of individuals collected for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

8.

Menhinick’s species richness for aquatic insects from 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 
9.

Relative abundance of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera taxa (EPT index) for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

10.

Relative abundance of major aquatic insect trophic groups for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

11.

Relation between (a) relative abundance of shredders and scrapers and channel size, and (b) relative abundance of filter feeders and channel size for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

12.

Reach structure index relative to 1990s urban land use in contributing drainage area above downstream boundary of reach for 12 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

 

13.

Land use by category in the 1970s and 1990s in the drainage areas upstream of the 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

TABLES

1.

Reach ID, name, and location and sampling schedule of fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, and stream-habitat conditions for 15 bioassessment reaches in the Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

2.

Description of stream-habitat measures and land-use variables for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001
3.
Fish taxa and counts of individual fish collected for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001
4.

Taxonomic classification of benthic macroinvertebrates and counts of individual taxa for 14 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001

5.

Stream-habitat and land-use data for 15 bioassessment reaches, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, 1999–2001




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