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In the early 1970s, Triplett Creek in Morehead, Kentucky, was straightened, deepened, and widened, resulting in a rather homogenous aquatic habitat, varying little in depth, flow, and substrate. In summer of 2018, a section of the stream was “restored” in order to alleviate the bank instability and flooding problems created by the 1970s channelization, restore the health of its aquatic community, and improve recreational opportunities. Our goal was to examine changes in the fish population resulting from the extensive changes to the channel and substrate during the restoration. We studied the fish populations at four sites (two sites in the restored area and two unaltered reference sites) in June of 2018, just before the restoration work occurred, and then four times after the work occurred, in October 2018, June 2019, October 2019, and October 2020. Fishes were qualitatively sampled using backpack electrofishing and seining. Encountered fishes were identified and counted, which allowed us to assess the fish community health using the Kentucky Index of Biotic Integrity (KIBI). In June 2018, prior to any restoration work, the four sites had KIBI scores between 59 and 70, all of which rated as “good”. The two sites in the restored area had a higher proportion of nonnative species, and fewer darters compared to the reference sites. In October 2018 and June 2019, after the restoration work, the restored sites declined slightly in KIBI scores, had reduced number of species detected, especially species considered “intolerant” by KIBI, and had reduced number of darter species, while the control sites showed little change. However, in October 2019 and October 2020, KIBI metrics had greatly improved in the restored sites, becoming similar to, or surpassing, KIBI metrics in the reference sites. However, the restored sites still have considerably more nonnative species than do the reference sites, perhaps because riparian vegetation and large woody debris has yet to be established in the restored sites.

Publication Date

Spring 2021


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Fall And Rise: Changes In The Fish Community Of Triplett Creek Following Restoration Of A Channelized Reach



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