Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Kaemingk, M.A., B.D.S. Graeb, C.W. Hoagstrom, and D.W. Willis. 2007. Patterns of fish diversity in a mainstem Missouri River reservoir and associated delta in South Dakota and Nebraska, USA. River Research and Applications 23:786-791.

DOI 10.1002/rra.1002


Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


There is an expansive and expanding delta at the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers in the Lewis and Clark Reservoir. The delta provides diverse aquatic habitat that is somewhat similar to the historic Missouri River and to remnant river habitats. As such, the delta may have relatively high fish species diversity compared to lentic reservoir habitats. To compare patterns of fish diversity between the delta and reservoir habitats, we collected fish in several nursery habitats in both areas using four gear types (seine, gill net, electrofisher and fyke net) on three occasions (July, August and September) in 2005. Species richness was higher in the delta (n=34) than the reservoir (n=22). Thirteen species composed more than 1% of delta collections while only four species composed more than 1% of reservoir collections. Species diversity (Fisher’s a) was also significantly higher in the delta. Higher species diversity in the delta may be explained by higher habitat diversity. These results suggest that newly forming deltas have the potential to protect and restore fish species diversity, because they retain natural river functions such as sediment transport and habitat formation.