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|Presentation Title||An Index of Oxbow Restoration Quality for Topeka Shiner|
|Presenting Author Name||Dylan Osterhaus|
|Presenting Author Affiliation||Iowa State University|
|Presenting Author Social Media Handles||Instagram- dylanosterhaus Facebook- Dylan Osterhaus|
|Unit Meeting||North Central Division Rivers and Streams Technical Committee Meeting|
|General Topic||Endangered Species Conservation, Habitat Restoration|
|Type of Presentation||Oral|
Freshwater ecosystems are among the World’s most imperiled, and perhaps one of the most vital to our existence due to the ecological services they provide. In North America, freshwater ecosystems have experienced over two centuries of anthropogenic stressors leading to degradation and loss of valuable habitats. These anthropogenic stressors include the conversion of tallgrass prairie to agriculture across the Midwest. During the conversion, streams within the region were channelized which led to the destruction of important off-channel habitats, such as oxbows, which are used by fish species such as the endangered Topeka Shiner. Recently, emphasis has been placed on reducing agricultural nitrate runoff within the Midwest and especially in the state of Iowa. Preliminary studies suggest that oxbows can efficiently reduce nitrate loads in the runoff from agricultural fields. Therefore, the restoration of oxbows within the region has increased greatly. Given that oxbows are critical habitat for Topeka Shiner, there is a need for a tool to assess the quality of oxbow restorations in terms of the potential benefit to the species. However, as Topeka Shiner is rare, relying on the presence/absence of the species within an oxbow is an ineffective way of assessing oxbow restoration quality. Using fish assemblage data collected from 118 oxbows in Iowa, will create an Index of Oxbow Restoration Quality. Our index will be similar to indices of biotic integrity and will allow conservation practitioners to effectively and efficiently analyze the quality of an oxbow restoration in terms of benefit to Topeka Shiner.