Assessment of Fish Assemblage Utilization of Floodplain Hábitat throughout Flood Pulse Event in Georgia’s Altamaha River

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Inundated floodplains provide vital feeding and spawning habitats to many river-dwelling fishes. During seasonal flooding, fish community composition is predicted to change in response to changing hydrology and consequent changes in water quality. Furthermore, as flood waters recede, many fish using this habitat return to the main channel where they enter the river food web. To assess the effects of seasonal flooding on fish communities, we studied fish assemblages in a floodplain of the Altamaha River throughout the 2012-2013 flood pulse by means of backpack electrofishing and dipnetting. Abundance, richness, diversity, and catch per unit effort (CPUE) were evaluated over different flood stages (pre-, peak-, and post-flood). Preliminary results indicate a pre-flood assemblage dominated by Centrarchids (8 of 20 total species) and relative abundance (73%). Of these, Lepomis macrochirus was the dominant species, accounting for >64% of individuals. Understanding the importance of floodplain access to fish communities is necessary to inform water management practices, especially as weather extremes (e.g., droughts and floods) are forecast to increase with a changing climate.


Society for Freshwater Science Annual Meeting (SFS)


Jacksonville, FL