Fish Communities at Effigy Mounds National Monument

Dousman Creek at Effigy Mounds National Monument
Dousman Creek at Effigy Mounds National Monument.


Fishes in cool-water streams, such as Dousman Creek, are negatively impacted by many threats and stressors. Reduced tree cover along streambanks, warm-water runoff from precipitation events, and increasing water temperatures are all major threats to these streams. Many fish are sensitive to poor habitat and water quality conditions, and serve as good indicators of stream ecosystem health. As a result of reduced habitat and decreased water quality, many Midwestern fish species are at risk of population declines.

Scientists have been monitoring fish populations in Dousman Creek since 2008. They collect fish using a backpack electrofishing unit. Monitoring fish allows scientists to determine which species are in the park and how well they are doing in the streams. Fish data is then related back to stream habitat and water quality conditions.
Graph of Fish at Effigy Mounds National Monument
Fish species abundance in Dousman Creek at Effigy Mounds National Monument.


A total of 14 fish species have been caught in Dousman’s Creek. Fish communities did not vary greatly among the years sampled. Overall, Dousman Creek had relatively fair or poor stream integrity scores. This suggests that fish communities are dominated by species tolerant to warm water conditions rather than cool water. Dousman Creek’s stream bed was dominated by coarse gravel in 2008 and fine gravel in both 2014 and 2017. This is due to major flooding prior to 2014 sampling which eroded the stream banks and deposited finer sediment in the channel. Scientists will continue to monitor fish communities at Dousman Creek to help track the health of this cool water stream.
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Data in this report were collected and analyzed using methods based on established, peer-reviewed protocols and were analyzed and interpreted within the guidelines of the protocols.

Last updated: March 16, 2018