Fish Communities at Pipestone National Monument

Seining to collect fish sample at Pipestone National Monument
Scientists seining a stream at Pipestone National Monument to sample fish communities.


An important part of tallgrass prairies is stream health. Many fish are sensitive and serve as indicators of stream health. Over time, land use changes have affected fish populations. Dams, urbanization, and agriculture are examples of such land use changes. As a result of habitat and water quality degradation, many Midwestern fish species are at risk of population declines. The native Topeka shiner, present with Pipestone National Monument, is federally endangered as a result of habitat changes.

Scientists have been tracking fish populations in Pipestone Creek since 2001. They collect fish using seine nets above and below Winnewissa Falls at Pipestone National Monument. Tracking 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 depicting fish species diversity at Pipestone National Monument.
Fish species diversity from 2001 through 2015 at Pipestone National Monument.


Twenty-two fish species have been caught in the park. Fish communities were different above and below Winnewissa Falls. The fish community above the falls consisted of species that are tolerant to poor water quality. In the 12 years sampled, no Topeka shiners were found above the falls. In comparison, the below section had higher species diversity and higher quality. One indicator of higher quality was the presence of the Topeka shiner. In 2015, only one Topeka shiner was captured in the park. Although only a small part of Pipestone Creek is within the park, it may serve as a refuge for the endangered species. Scientists continue to monitor Pipestone Creek to track fish communities and the Topeka shiner.

View the Full Report. (pdf)

For more information visit the Heartland Inventory & Monitoring Network.

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: July 25, 2018