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Distribution of Fishes in the Red River of the North Basin on Multivariate Environmental Gradients

Similarity of Streams Based on Fish Assemblages


A cluster analysis of 26 streams was conducted based on the presence or absence of native fish species. The analysis produced four distinct clusters which were determined to be statistically unique from one another (Figure 7). Cluster A consisted of seven streams, all of which had relatively high species richness (average=52); and all were relatively large in size in terms of watershed area (average=2364mi2), stream length (average=241mi), and average annual discharge (average=342cfs). The analysis grouped the Sheyenne River and the Red River faunas with that of five tributaries in the eastern basin. Through PCA, the species typical of cluster A streams were determined. Descriptive species included the silver redhorse, golden shiner, blackchin shiner, spottail shiner, and bluegill. All of these species, with the exception of the blackchin shiner, are common in large-stream habitats (Becker 1983). The blackchin shiner and the bluegill have nearly identical distributions in the Red River basin (Figures A31 and A62). They have been found associated with the lakes and clear water streams of the eastern basin and are found only in the Sheyenne River in the western basin.

The eight streams of cluster B (Figure 7) included five from the northwestern and three from the northeastern reaches of the basin. These streams all had relatively moderate species richness (average=32); and all were much smaller in size when compared to cluster A streams, in terms of watershed area (average=1119mi2), stream length (average=107mi), and average annual discharge (average=119cfs). Within this cluster, two subgroups can be noted. The Pembina, Forest, Park, and Turtle Rivers from the western basin formed one subgroup indicating close faunal similarity among these streams. The Roseau, Two, and Sandhill Rivers from the eastern basin, along with the Goose River, formed a second subgroup. This separation suggests that differences in fish faunas of streams may be due to an east-west environmental gradient as is noticed across the Red River basin (Stoner et al. 1993). Through PCA, the species descriptive of cluster B streams could not be distinguished because streams did not score high on a common PCA axis.

The seven streams of cluster C all were located in the west-central and southern reaches of the basin. These streams were characterized by relatively low species richness (average=21), moderate watershed area (average=933mi2), low stream length (average=76mi), and average annual discharge (average=42cfs). Within this cluster, two subgroups can be noted. The Elm, Rush, and Maple Rivers formed one subgroup, indicating extremely close faunal similarity, particularly between the Rush and Maple Rivers. The Wild Rice, Bois de Sioux, Mustinka, and Rabbit Rivers formed a second subgroup. These streams are all located in the extreme southern reaches of the basin. Through PCA, the species descriptive of cluster C streams were determined. The channel catfish, river shiner, spotfin shiner, bigmouth buffalo, and sauger were most descriptive of the Maple and Bois de Sioux Rivers along with the Sheyenne and Red Rivers of cluster A. Results of the PCA are questionable in this case because the river shiner and sauger are not typically found in the Maple and Bois de Sioux Rivers (Figures A29 and A75).

Cluster D was a small group consisting of only four streams, the Tamarac, Snake, and Middle Rivers in the northeastern basin and the Tongue River in the northwest. These streams were characterized by low species richness (average=20) and extremely small stream size in terms of watershed area (average=400mi2), stream length (average=41mi), and average annual discharge (average=41cfs). The central mudminnow, pearl dace, and finescale dace were identified by PCA as species typical of cluster D streams. Analysis of distribution patterns also indicates that these species are common in all four streams (Figures A24, A39, and A52). The only record of the central mudminnow from the Red River basin in North Dakota is from the Tongue River.


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