We investigated the spatial variation in the Kansas River (USA) fish assemblage to determine how fish community structure changes with habitat complexity in a large river. Fishes were collected at ten sites throughout the Kansas River for assessing assemblage structure in summer 2007. Aerial imagery indicated riparian land use within 200 m from the river edge was dominated by agriculture in the upper river reaches (>35%) and tended to increase in urban land use in the lower reaches (>58%). Instream habitat complexity (number of braided channels, islands) also decreased with increased urban area (<25%). Canonical correspondence analysis indicated that species that prefer high-velocity flows and sandy substrate (e.g., blue sucker Cycleptus elongatus and shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) were associated with the upper river reaches. Abundance of omnivorous and planktivorous fish species were also higher in the lower river. The presence of fluvial dependent and fluvial specialist species was associated with sites with higher water flows, more sand bars, and log jams. Our results suggest that conserving intolerant, native species in the Kansas River may require maintaining suitable habitat for these species and restoration of impacted areas of the river.
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Vol. 163 • No. 1