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Abstract

Bayou Meto is a low-gradient, highly turbid, warm-water stream that originates in the foothills of the Interior Highlands of central Arkansas and flows southeastward 290 km to the Arkansas River. In the 1970's, Bayou Meto was contaminated with dioxins from a point source (Vertac Corp.) now recognized as a USEPA Superfund site. The present study was initiated to investigate the impact of dioxin on the fish community of Bayou Meto. Fishes were collected by backpack-electrofishing, boat-electrofishing, seines, hoopnets, minnow traps, and trot lines, at 14 sampling stations. Diversity indices (Shannon and Margalef) were used to compare diversity among sample sites. A total of 73 fish species was collected from Bayou Meto and Wattensaw Bayou (a reference stream) between May, 1991 and September, 1992. A total of 79 species had been reported from these drainages. I collected 64 species from Bayou Meto and 48 species from Wattensaw Bayou. Of the 79 species historically reported from these drainages, 17 were not collected during this study. However, of the 73 species collected, 11 (15% of the entire collection) had not been previously recorded from these drainages. There was 57% overlap in species between Bayou Meto and Wattensaw Bayou. Differences in collected species from the two drainages mostly involved rare species i.e., those species in low abundance according to the literature and/or difficult to collect. Centrarchids and castostomids dominated the fish communities of both streams. Percids were also well represented, but 50% were not previously reported from these drainages. Cyprinidae numbers were low and distributions spotty. Diversity varied among sites and was related to impacts and stream order. Diversity was highest at less impacted locations and downstream sites.

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