National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Report NPS/HTLN/NRR 2021/2235 / NPS 920/175110, March 2021

Editing and design by Tani Hubbard

Also available at:

Heartland Network, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior

Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative

Please cite this publication as:

Dodd, H. R., D. G. Peitz, G. A. Rowell, J. A. Hinsey, D. E. Bowles, L. W. Morrison, M. D. DeBacker, J. L. Haack-Gaynor, and J. M. Williams. 2021. Protocol for monitoring fish communities in small streams in the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network: Version 2.0. Natural Resource Report NPS/HTLN/NRR—2021/2235. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.


Executive Summary

Fish communities are an important component of aquatic systems and are good bioindicators of ecosystem health. Land use changes in the Midwest have caused sedimentation, erosion, and nutrient loading that degrades and fragments habitat and impairs water quality. Because most small wadeable streams in the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network (HTLN) have a relatively small area of their watersheds located within park boundaries, these streams are at risk of degradation due to adjacent land use practices and other anthropogenic disturbances. Shifts in the physical and chemical properties of aquatic systems have a dramatic effect on the biotic community. The federally endangered Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) and other native fishes have declined in population size due to habitat degradation and fragmentation in Midwest streams. By protecting portions of streams on publicly owned lands, national parks may offer refuges for threatened or endangered species and species of conservation concern, as well as other native species.

This protocol describes the background, history, justification, methodology, data analysis and data management for long-term fish community monitoring of wadeable streams within nine HTLN parks: Effigy Mounds National Monument (EFMO), George Washington Carver National Monument (GWCA), Herbert Hoover National Historic Site (HEHO), Homestead National Monument of America (HOME), Hot Springs National Park (HOSP), Pea Ridge National Military Park (PERI), Pipestone National Monument (PIPE), Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (TAPR), and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (WICR). The objectives of this protocol are to determine the status and long-term trends in fish richness, diversity, abundance, and community composition in small wadeable streams within these nine parks and correlate the long-term community data to overall water quality and habitat condition (DeBacker et al. 2005).