Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Martin Hamel

Second Advisor

Mark Pegg

Date of this Version



Uerling, Caleb C. "Fish and Macroinvertebrate Response to Restored Off Channel Habitats on the Lower Platte River, Nebraska ." (2017). M.S. thesis, University of Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Martin J. Hamel. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Caleb C. Uerling


Anthropogenic alterations to large rivers ranging from impoundments to levees have caused many rivers to no longer access the floodplain. The ecological integrity of floodplain rivers depends on the interaction between main-channel and floodplain habitats. Fish communities inhabiting floodplain habitats are often dictated by the type of habitat and conditions within that habitat. As restoration projects are undertaken it is imperative that managers understand how fish and macroinvertebrates respond to these events. We collected fish, macroinvertebrates, and habitat parameters on two restored floodplain habitats on the lower Platte River, Nebraska to answer questions about aquatic community response to floodplain restoration on Midwest river systems. We found temporal and spatial changes in the fish and macroinvertebrate communities. These changes are important for informing managers implementing and monitoring similar projects in the future. We also found a correlation where a decrease in discharge in the main stem river resulted in increased diversity in one side channel; the highest diversity was during the summer season. Several native riverine fish species were also found in this side channel during high temperatures and low flows in the main stem Platte River. No habitat variables performed well for predicting fish species diversity for an adjacent side channel with more uniform depth and velocity. However, several native riverine fish species in this side channel were positively associated with several habitat variables. The relation between the fish community and specific habitat variables highlight the importance of considering the physical design of restored floodplain habitats when planning restorations.

Advisor: Martin J. Hamel