Date of this Version
U.S. Government Works
Channelization of the Missouri River has greatly reduced the availability of shallow water habitats used by many larval and juvenile fishes and contributed to imperilment of floodplain-dependent biota. Creation of small side channels, or chutes, is being used to restore shallow water habitat and reverse negative environmental effects associated with channelization. In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected early life stages of fishes from constructed chutes and nearby unrestored shallow habitats at six sites on the Missouri River between Rulo, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri. We compared the diets of two abundant species of fishes to test the hypothesis that created shallow chutes provided better foraging habitat for early life stages than nearby unrestored shallow habitats. Graphical analysis of feeding patterns of freshwater drum indicated specialization on chironomid larvae, which were consumed in greater numbers in unrestored mainstem reaches compared to chutes. Hiodon spp. were more generalist feeders with no differences in prey use between habitat types. Significantly greater numbers of individuals with empty stomachs were observed in chute shallow-water habitats, indicating poor foraging habitat. For these two species, constructed chute shallow-water habitat does not appear to provide the hypothesized benefits of higher quality foraging habitat.