Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Long Term Resource Monitoring



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The fisheries component of the LTRM element is charged, in part, with monitoring and reporting trends in the status of selected fish populations and fish communities of the UMRS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993). Fish are the primary biotic object of recreational and commercial use on the UMRS. During 1982, UMRS fisheries provided more than 8.5 million activity days of sportfishing that generated more than $150 million in direct expenditures (Fremling et al. 1989). Commercial fisheries of the UMRS were valued at more than $2.4 million in 1987 (Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee 1989). Adverse trends in fisheries of the UMRS would have detrimental effects on recreation and the regional economy. Therefore, it is important to detect any adverse trends as they occur so that remedial actions can be considered.

Monitoring of and research on fish are also important because fish often affect other ecosystem elements. Although documentation of the effects of fish on other biota is derived primarily from lakes and reservoirs (Northcote 1988) and traditional thought maintains that the dynamics of river biota are influenced primarily by abiotic factors, recent evidence shows that the dynamics of fish assemblages in temperate rivers are regulated in part by biotic factors (Welcomme et al. 1989). Fish may exert influences on other biota in riverine ecosystems and may, therefore, be of broad ecological importance. For example, evidence shows that common carp (Cyprinus carpio), an abundant species in the UMRS, may depress or even eliminate macrophytes either through uprooting or disturbance of substrate (Cahn 1929; Macrae 1979). Effects of fish on benthic macroinvertebrates are well known (Northcote 1988). Therefore, trends in abundance of fish may be crucial in explaining trends in abundance of other riverine biota.

Resource monitoring is an important component of long-term ecological research on processes governing large-scale ecosystems. It is nearly impossible to perform experimental manipulations of the UMRS on large spatial scales and to incorporate replication. Long-term data from standardized sampling programs that span natural or anthropogenic disturbances are the only means for gaining an understanding of large-scale processes governing large river systems (Sparks et al. 1990). Further, the LTRM fisheries component will provide support for the formulation and investigation of research hypotheses concerning smaller scales using focused experimentation. Therefore, the combination of routine monitoring coupled with more intensive investigation of consequences of disturbances and experimentation at reduced spatial and temporal scales is the only available means for better understanding the UMRS and for identifying viable management alternatives.

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