The food habits of the Arkansas River shiner and the speckled chub



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Texas Tech University


Prairie streams occur within the central United States from the Great lakes south to the Rio Grande and west to the Rocky Mountains. Because of the vast region in which prairie streams occur, climate not only differs among streams but also within stream systems. Climate variation over this vast area results in differences in seasonal stream flows, mean annual day length, amount of time streams are frozen, and riparian habitats. Climate change within systems is a result of the extent of individual streams, as prairie streams often begin in mountainous regions and flow great distances crossing the plains region before merging with larger stream systems.

Physical characteristics of prairie stream systems also vary across this vast region, but depend largely on location. At their origins in mountains regions, flow is often swift due to steep gradients and there is little sediment loading. As these streams flow across the prairies, channels are usually braided and slow flowing. During winter months prairie streams carry little sediment. Conversely, during summers streams often overflow banks following thunderstorms and consequently carry increased sediment loads. During drought periods prairie streams often become intermittent. As a result, prairie stream ecosystems are notoriously dynamic (Hefley 1993).