Imperiled fish conservation
Fish life history and reproductive ecology
Historical variation in stream fish assemblages
Spatial ecology in dendritic stream networks
Dr. Frank Cross once asked “How will the unprecedented loss of species of fishes from the Midwest during the last 40 years affect the lives of Kansans? Will Kansans respond to the loss of water on the high plains and the depletion of subsurface aquifers before their lives are changed immeasurably for the worse? How can scientists and other interested people determine solutions?” The basis of my research relates to determining causal factors for fish species declines in and outside of the Great Plains, with the ultimate goal of developing solutions for water and species loss.
Joshuah S. Perkin, Ph.D.
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
116 Ackert Hall
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Kansas State University – December 2012
Doctor of Philosophy, Biology: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Major Advisor: Dr. Keith B. Gido
Dissertation Title: Fragmentation in stream networks: quantification, consequences, and implications to decline of native fish fauna.
Texas State University-San Marcos – May 2009
Master of Science, Aquatic Resources
Thesis Title: Historical composition and long-term trends of fish assemblages in two Texas rivers and movement and microhabitat associations of Guadalupe bass in the Pedernales and South Llano rivers.
Texas State University-San Marcos – August 2006
Bachelor of Science, Aquatic Biology
Undergraduate Research Title: Status, native distribution, and life history aspects of the chub shiner Notropis potteri.
Alexander, A. M., and J. S. Perkin. 2013. Notes on the distribution and feeding ecology of a relict population of the cardinal shiner, Luxilus cardinalis (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 116:11-21. PDF
Perkin, J. S., Z. R. Shattuck, J. E. Gerken, and T. H. Bonner. 2013. Fragmentation and drought legacy correlate with Burrhead Chub distribution in subtropical streams of North America. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142:1287-1298. PDF
Dodds, W. K., J. S. Perkin, and J. E. Gerken. 2013. Human impact on freshwater ecosystem services: a global perspective. Environmental Science and Technology 47:9061-9068. PDF
Perkin, J. S., K. B. Gido, O. Al-Ta'ani, and C. Scoglio. 2013. Simulating fish dispersal in stream networks fragmented by multiple road crossings. Ecological Modelling 257:44-56. PDF
Perkin, J. S., and K. B. Gido. 2012. Fragmentation alters stream fish community structure in dendritic ecological networks. Ecological Applications 22:2176-2187. PDF
Perkin, J. S., Z. R. Shattuck, and T. H. Bonner. 2012. Reproductive ecology of a relict ironcolor shiner (Notropis chalybaeus) population in the headwaters of the San Marcos River, Texas. American Currents 37(2):13-23. PDF
Heard, T. C., J. S. Perkin, and T. H. Bonner. 2012. Intra-annual variation in fish communities and habitat associations in a Chihuahua Desert reach of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo del Norte. Western North American Naturalist 72:1-15. PDF
Perkin, J. S., Z. R. Shattuck, and T. H. Bonner. 2012. Life history aspects of a relict ironcolor shiner Notropis chalybaeus population in a novel spring environment. American Midland Naturalist 167:111-126. PDF
Perkin, J. S., and K. B. Gido. 2011. Stream fragmentation thresholds for a reproductive guild of Great Plains fishes. Fisheries 36:371-383. PDF
Perkin, J. S., and T. H. Bonner. 2011. Long-term changes in flow regime and fish assemblage composition in the Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers of Texas. River Research and Applications 27:566-579. PDF
Perkin, J. S., Z. R. Shattuck, P. T. Bean, T. H. Bonner, E. Saraeva, and T. B. Hardy. 2010. Movement and microhabitat associations of Guadalupe bass in two Texas Rivers. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30:31-45. PDF
Perkin, J. S., C. S. Williams, and T. H. Bonner. 2009. Aspects of chub shiner Notropis potteri life history with comments on native distribution and conservation status. American Midland Naturalist 162:279-291. PDF
Conservation Priorities for Great Plains Fish Communities Based on Riverscape Connectivity and Genetic Integrity of Populations
Fragmentation of streams is a primary threat to aquatic biodiversity, especially in the Great Plains region of North America where impoundments or dewatered streams have created a mosaic of isolated stream fragments. Within these fragments, fishes such as the Arkansas River shiner that broadcast gametes into pelagic zones of rivers have experienced massive declines over the past century. Conservation of aquatic biodiversity in the Great Plains now requires additional information on riverscape connectivity and the associated effects on species of greatest conservation concern. We propose to conduct riverscape-scale evaluations of habitat connectivity, fish communities, and population-level genetic analysis for pelagic-spawning cyprinids in stream fragments throughout the Great Plains, including portions of the Platte, Kansas, Arkansas, Canadian, and Red river basins. To measure broad-scale habitat connectivity within each basin, we propose to calculate a new measure of longitudinal connectivity in stream systems, the Dendritic Connectivity Index (DCI). The DCI allows for prioritizing barriers for remediation (e.g., removal, fish passage) to maximize gains in habitat connectivity and reduce costs. We then propose to survey community composition in isolated fragments of each basin to estimate the abundance and distribution of priority fish species. Fin clips will be taken from pelagic-spawning cyprinids such as the Arkansas River shiner and analyzed for molecular measurements of gene diversity and effective population size. Complementary ecological and genetic data can then be compared across species, stream fragments, and drainage basins to provide a robust estimate of population status. These data will be used by cooperators (i.e., Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) to enhance conservation delivery of priority fish species in the Great Plains.
Reproductive Ecology and Spatial Distribution of Imperiled Cyprinids in the Arkansas and Ninnescah Rivers of Kansas
Great Plains fishes belonging to the pelagic-broadcast spawning reproductive guild have shown massive declines during the past half-century. These declines have occurred in part because of fragmentation of large-order prairie streams by impoundments, diversion dams, and water withdrawals that result in stream desiccation. The nature of pelagic-spawning, in which drifting eggs and larvae require long-distances of stream for development, contributes to an stream obligate life-history strategy among Great Plains cyprinids belonging to this guild, and few unfragmented streams with intact assemblages of pelagic-broadcast spawning cyprinids remain. However, the relatively high level of connectivity in the Ninnescah River and adjoining Arkansas River of south-central Kansas maintains an intact pelagic-broadcast spawning fish assemblage and provides an opportunity to test hypotheses related to the spatial ecology associated with full expression of pelagic-broadcast spawning life-history. For my dissertation work I considered how reproductively mature silver chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana) and peppered chub (Macrhybopsis tetranema) were distributed longitudinally along the South Fork Ninnescah River, Ninnescah River proper, and Arkansas River between diversion dams in Wichita, Kansas and KAW Reservoir in Oklahoma. Preliminary results suggest size distributions and occurrence of reproductively mature females were skewed towards upstream reaches of both rivers during the summer, consistent with the species conducting upstream migrations for reproduction. Furthermore, no individuals were captured upstream of dams at the upstream extents of the study reach. This work will further contribute to our understanding of how spatial dynamics, riverine landscape ecology, and reproductive life-history of rare Great Plains fishes will ultimately aid in conservation of highly imperiled taxa.
Long-Term Changes in Water Quality and Fish Assemblage Composition in the Trinity River of Texas
The Trinity River of Texas has been plagued by poor water quality for more than a century. Extensive nutrient contamination, more than a dozen major fish kills, and passage of legislation such as the Clean Water Act of 1972 culminated in efforts to improve water quality in the Trinity River downstream of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex. We tracked changes in concentrations of ammonia, nitrate, phosphorus, and biolochemical oxygen demand, components of streamflow regime, and fish assemblage composition in three mainstem reaches during a 40 year period (1968-2008). Results suggest concentrations of water quality parameters declined through time and with greater distance from DWF, including the lowest concentrations in the reach downstream of a mainstem reservoir (Lake Livingston, constructed in 1968). Mean annual flow and high flow pulses increased only in the reach immediately downstream of DFW. Species richness generally increased among all reaches and assemblage composition shifted among samples taken during 1972-74, 1987-88, and 1994-2008. In the reaches between DFW and Lake Livingston, native, intolerant, and lotic-adapted fishes increased, whereas in the reach downstream of Lake Livingston non-native, lacustrine species increased. Our results indicate a revitalization of the Trinity River fish assemblage associated with passage of water quality legislation, but also illustrate potential confounding factors such as stream impoundment and continued nutrient deposition that likely preclude complete assemblage recovery. These findings also illustrate how nutrient remediation in a large-order river contributed to fish assemblage improvement and exemplify the long-term success potential for broad-scale, multi-coordinator biodiversity conservation approaches.