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Title: Fishes of the big muddy river drainage with emphasis on historical changes

Author: Burr, Brooks M.; Warren, Melvin L. Jr.;

Date: 1999

Source: Biological Report 19, p. 186-209

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: The Big Muddy River, a lowland stream located in southwestern Illinois and draining an area of about 6,182 km2, contains a moderately diverse fish fauna of 106 species. The river is properly named, as the mainstem carried historically and continues to transport great quantities of silt. Historically, a large portion of the watershed was wooded, but much of the land has been cleared and put under cultivation. This has exacerbated siltation and eliminated former wetlands adjacent to and communicating with the mainstem and tributaries. Most of the drainage suffers from excessive siltation; dessication during drought periods; and oil-field, sewage effluent, strip-mine, and other industrial pollution. The construction of Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, Devil's Kitchen, Kincaid, Cedar, and Rend lakes effectively eliminated some of the highest qualitystreams in the drainage. One detrimental effect of these various stresses has been the disappearance of at least 10 native fish species over the past 100 years, including some of sport or commercial value (e.g., blue sucker, burbot). Suggested solutions to these problems include (1) a community ecology approach to future management of the drainage itself and the human made lakes; (2) maintenance or re-establishment of wooded riparian corridors, as well as wetlands adjacent to the river and tributaries, as spawning and nursery sites; (3) continued vigorous reclamation of abandoned mine lands and treatment of acid mine drainage; and (4) discontinuance of stocking of nonnative fishes (e.g., grass carp, bighead carp, striped bass, inland silverside) until their impact can be assessed.

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Burr, Brooks M.; Warren, Melvin L., Jr. 1999. Fishes of the big muddy river drainage with emphasis on historical changes. Biological Report 19, p. 186-209


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