Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Donald Tarter

Second Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


Development of a habitat index requires an understanding of the longitudinal distribution of habitat, fish assemblages, and how the two interact. Because of the complexity and size of the Ohio River, this understanding has not been reached. Habitat analysis has long been considered, and is essential, in assigning impaired and reference condition of habitat quality. The Ohio River is diverse in the distribution of its habitat within pool and river-wide. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze these distributions. Within pool assessment of % habitat composition revealed woody cover and vegetation types were significantly greater in the lowest quarter of each pool (p whereas river-wide, fine sediment types dominate Distribution of fish species is often Many studies have been 0.05), downstream. dependent on habitat types present, performed to develop a better understanding of the relationship between habitat and fish assemblages in smaller streams, but not in such a dynamic system like that of the Ohio River. In this study, a multi-metric fish assemblage index for large rivers was used to determine the relationship of habitat and fish composition on the Ohio River. Habitat types (sediment, depth, and woody/ vegetation cover) were found to weakly describe fish community variability as much as 19.58% individually (Pearson's correlation analysis) and 25.42% as a composite (stepwise multiple regression) for particular metrics. It was found through analysis this variability was strongly explained by sediment types and depth. The influence of woody cover was minimal as a result of its location in zones assessed. Although the relationships observed were found to be weak, a better understanding of this diverse system's ecology has been made. These discoveries will be useful in the future to develop a predictive model of fish community response to habitat in "optimal" and "degraded" conditions.


Habitat (Ecology) – Ohio River.

Fish communities – Ohio River.

River continuum concept.

Rivers – Ecology.