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FRESHWATER FISH ECOLOGY
BIOL 4970/5970, Sec. 050, 3 credit hours

 

Syllabus - PDF

Background:

Flowing and static water (lotic & lentic respectively) habitats are ecologically distinct. Biota are adapted to physicochemical conditions in each; impoundment abruptly modifies one set of conditions into the other. Reservoirs are artificial systems that are neither entirely characteristic of flowing waters nor lakes. They have not evolved slowly over time, but have been abruptly created; the biota undergo modifications in response to the environmental transition and subsequent biological dynamics of the various populations. Fish populations that existed during the lotic history are affected by the new, near-lentic conditions. Human-induced development through the construction of reservoirs, alters the physicochemical conditions of natural aquatic systems, which in turn directly affect the biology of the resident fishes. The dynamics of the new reservoir’s founding year-classes dominate the community for a number of years, then gradually develop a modified cyclic equilibrium.  Subsequent environmental alterations can continue to impact the community; these may include edaphic factors that vary from year to year and further anthropogenic factors, such as nutrient influx, environmental contaminants, and fish management. Management may regulate harvest characteristics (creel and length limits) and increase the complexity of the fish community through supplemental or introduction stocking.
 
Course Objectives:

Freshwater Fish Ecology will be examined by relating environmental factors in streams, both pre- and post-impoundment, in relation to their effects on the fish populations. These environmental factors will be discussed in the context of fish adaptations to the aquatic environment. Thus, important components of basic fish biology will be included. The fish populations will be characterized relative to parameters that are important to dynamics – functional role in the community, size distribution within a species, and standing stock or biomass. The role of introductions, either supplemental or introductory, will be included. Because fishes usually are not easily observed, sampling must play an integral role in population evaluations and therefore will be included as a component of the course. Ongoing monitoring of populations is essential as elements of decision making for management purposes.

Course Structure:

A multifaceted approach will include traditional lecture discussions of the chalk-board variety, as well as vicarious experience through slide-shows and power-points. Discussion and experiential learning will be encouraged. This will extend to laboratory work which will be hands-on activities to illustrate classroom discussion. Some inside labs will be used, but most will be out-of-doors. Field trips will be taken to streams in the vicinity of UOBS; sampling in Lake Texoma will illustrate the impoundment component. The UOBS experience is best characterized as casual, dress and in activities; however, safety will be emphasized. Life preservers will be worn while in boats, sun screen is important, and liquid intake is essential in the Oklahoma heat. Bring field clothing including wading shoes (not flip-flops nor crocks). Text – No text will be required, but pertinent literature will be availalble in the classroom and the library.  Topics - The schedule of discussion is outlined below; laboratory exercises will be coordinated with the sequence Time required - For the most part, we will occupy the entire day and some evenings with our activities. A typical day might involve classroom work in the A.M., then an afternoon field project. We will try to allow time in the evenings for “book-work”.  Alternatively, some field work will be accomplished in the morning, and afternoons to do associated lab work. Grading- Grading will be based on: exams (1 @ 30%  and 1 @ 30%), laboratory exercises (30%), assigned readings and associated discussions (10%).  Students taking the course for graduate credit will be required to complete additional assignments.

Reasonable Accommodation - Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from demonstrating his or her abilities should contact your instructor, as well as Donna Cobb at (405) 325-7430, and the office of Disability Services, Goddard Health Center, Rm. 166, (405) 325-3852, as soon as possible so that accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational opportunities can be discussed.

                                                            Outline
    I. Course Introduction                                           
         History of Water Resource Development
         Agriculture & Poor Land-Use Practices-watershed management (Land-use practices)
         Rise of Government Agencies in Water management (small impoundments)
         Management – Funding, Foci
         Classification of Types of Impoundments
         Global development, Regional Development & Local Development – drainage systems
 II. Characteristics of Impounded Waters versus Flowing Waters
          Physical and Chemical Environments – Lotic vs. Lentic
          Aquatic Habitat vs Terrestrial
          Natural vs modified systems
          Environmental effects Small vs Large & Mainstem vs. Upland                        
III. Fish Adaptations to Aquatic habitat
          Fishes defined
          Morphology & Physiology
          Taxonomy
          Biology
 IV. Sampling Fish Populations & Habitats
          Safety in Field Research
          Sampling methodology
          Sampling Design
V. Riverine-Reservoir Transition
          Stream Ecology        
          Preimpoundment Evaluation
          Dam Construction
          Physico-Chemical Contrast
          Biological Effects - Transition of Fisheries
                Qualitative – species composition
                Quantitative – Populations & Community
                Predator-Prey dynamics
 VI. Case History
         West Point Reservoir – 10-year model
         Lake Texoma, UOBS – long-term, non-contiguous
VII. Management
         Small Impoundment vs. Large impoundments          
         Habitat Manipulation
         Stocking – Introduction vs Supplemental
         Fishery Harvest – Evaluation and manipulation

           
___________________________________________________________________
Text: None.

References:
Allan, J.D. 1995. Stream ecology, structure & function of running waters. Chapman & Hall.
Hall, G.E. and M.J. Van Den Avyle, editors. 1986. Reservoir fisheries
            management: Strategies for the 80's.   American Fisheries Society, Bethesda.
Murphy, B.R. and D.W.  Willis.  1996. Fisheries techniques, 2nd ed. American Fisheries
            Society, Bethesda.

William Shelton
Department of Biology
The University of Oklahoma
730 Van Vleet Oval
Norman, OK 73019
Phone: (405)325-1058
Fax: (405)325-6202
E-mail: wshelton@ou.edu

 

Updated December 11, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated October 22, 2014 by the Biological Station, uobs@ou.edu or dcobb@ou.edu
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