Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Miranda, Leandro E.

Committee Member

Slack, W. Todd

Committee Member

Baker, Beth

Committee Member

Colvin, Michael E.

Committee Member

Hunt, Kevin M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


The hills of Yazoo Basin have a long history of land use modification and subsequent erosion and flood control issues. In response, federal actions were taken to address these issues beginning after the Mississippi River flood of 1927. Four major flood control reservoirs were built in 1932-1957, and instream low-drop grade control structures (GCS) were installed beginning in the 1980s. The objective of my dissertation was to ascertain the long-term effects of these efforts on stream fish assemblages and channel morphology. To assess whether the reservoirs affected upstream fish assemblages as barriers to recolonization by fluvial fishes or as source population for invasion by lentic generalist fishes (Chapter 1), I used stream data collected 43-61 years after the rivers were impounded to test for differences in fish assemblages between sites upstream and downstream of the reservoirs. Analysis of catch per effort and diversity metrics displayed little influence of the reservoirs, but trait-based analysis revealed marginal increases in planktivores, herbivores, detritivores, and generalists in upstream assemblages. After determining that potential effects of reservoirs would not confound further analysis, I assessed the effects of GCS on channel morphology (Chapter 2) and fish assemblages (Chapter 3) 30 years post-installation. To assess GCS effects on channel morphology, stream cross-sections were used to calculate Bank Height Ratio, Width/Depth Ratio, and Entrenchment Ratio, while point estimates made along the transects were used to calculate the average sediment size distribution. Analyses revealed that the GCS were successful in checking channel incision moving headward in the streams: sites upstream of the GCS were less incised and had greater accumulations of fine substrates compared to downstream sites and sites on streams lacking erosion control structures. The GCS could potentially affect fish assemblages through habitat modification or by selectively filtering the assemblages as a barrier to upstream migration. Analysis of beta diversity revealed that diversity was driven by species replacement rather than nestedness, which indicates GCS were not acting as filters on the assemblages. Analysis of catch per effort data confirmed differences in assemblage structure that echoed the instream habitat differences revealed in Chapter 2.