Habitat Conditions

AQUATIC COMMUNITY CLASSIFICATIONS

Pflieger (1989) classified the streams of the Spring River Basin in the Ozark-Neosho and Prairie-Neosho divisions. The following information is based on his descriptions. Additional details are available in Pflieger (1989).

The Ozark Faunal Region lies primarily within the Ozark Plateaus Physiographic Province. This area is characterized by Mississippian or older bedrock consisting primarily of limestones and dolomites.

Streams of the Ozark Faunal Region are typically clear, have high gradients, and contain substrates comprised primarily of coarse gravel, rubble, boulders, and bedrock. Along the northern and western boundaries of this region, streams are typically transitional with those of the Prairie Faunal Region.

The Ozark-Neosho Division includes the entire Spring River Basin except the northern tributaries of the Spring River from (and including) the North Fork of the Spring River to the Kansas state line to the west. The headwaters of Dry Fork are included in the Ozark-Neosho Division.

Both local relief and stream gradient are generally less in the Ozark-Neosho Division than those of associated Ozark divisions. Streams within this division are typically transitional with those of the adjacent Prairie Faunal Region. The numerous springs found within this division are mostly small.

The Prairie Faunal Region covers most of Missouri north of the Missouri River and an area south of the Missouri River along the Kansas state line. This region is largely co-extensive with the Dissected Till Plains and the Osage Plains physiographic regions. Pennsylvanian shales and thin sandstones are the principal bedrock types over much of the region. The streams of the Prairie Faunal Region occupy relatively broad valleys with high alluvial banks. Stream pools are relatively long and riffles may be poorly defined. Base flows tend to be low.

The Prairie-Neosho Division includes the Little North Fork and North Fork of the Spring River drainages, excluding Buck Branch and lower Dry Fork. This division spans both the Osage Plains and Springfield Plateau in southwest Missouri. The uplands are level to gently rolling and the streams occupy broad, shallow valleys. Stream pools are long, separated by short riffles, and composed of rock and gravel.

CHANNEL ALTERATIONS

Channel alterations in the watershed include modifications to urban stream courses, channelization associated with road and bridge construction, channel modifications related to gravel removal, and efforts by individual landowners to control streambank erosion and similar problems. Instream gravel mining operations are typically small, few in number, and scattered.

UNIQUE HABITATS

There are six major categories of terrestrial natural resources classified in the state--Forest, Savanna, Prairie, Primary, Wetland, and Cave. The communities are divided based on characteristic features such as topography, size, distribution, and characteristic plants associated with the community (Nelson 1985).

The Missouri Department of Conservation Natural Heritage Program has identified unique natural communities in the Spring River drainage in four of the major categories; Forest, Prairie, Primary, and Wetland (Table Hc01).

The Forest community is an upland chert forest. The Primary community is a glade community, and the Wetland community is a groundwater seep (Nelson 1985).

The Prairie category is the most prevalent of the listed communities and contains representatives from limestone/shale, limestone/dolomite, chert glade, sandstone/shale, mesic, and hardpan prairie subdivisions (Nelson 1985).

In addition to unique terrestrial communities, the basin supports several natural areas designated by the Missouri Natural Areas Committee. The Committee defines a natural area as " . biological communities or geological sites that preserve and are managed to perpetuate the natural character, diversity, and ecological processes of Missouri's native landscapes. They are permanently protected and managed for the purpose of preserving their natural qualities."

These areas are designated by the committee to aid in the management and restoration of the best examples of the extant communities found in each section of the state (Kramer et. al 1996). The Missouri Natural Areas Committee has designated four natural areas within the basin. These are: Wildcat Glade and Diamond Grove Prairie Natural Areas, Newton County; Mt. Vernon Prairie Natural Area, Lawrence County; and Wah-Sha-She Prairie Natural Area, Jasper County. More detailed information on each of these areas can be found in the Public Areas section of this document and Kramer et. al (1996).

IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

As in most basins, there have been a variety of attempts by private landowners to stabilize streambanks. These attempts include channelization and bank armoring using a variety of materials including rock, gravel, and construction debris.

MDC personnel have installed three improvement projects since 1989, one on MDC property and two on private property (Table Hc02).

STREAM HABITAT ASSESSMENT

Stream habitat assessments (SHAD) were completed at 107 sites throughout the basin in 1990 by Fisheries District 9 staff (Table Hc03). SHAD sites were selected in all of the major sub-basins using the guidelines of Bovee (1982).

More detailed information is available from MDC's Southwest Regional Office in Springfield, MO.

Stream habitat quality is fair to good throughout most of the basin. Some areas suffer from a lack of riparian vegetation. The lack of adequate riparian vegetation, effects of runoff from mined lands, excessive nutrient loading, streambank erosion, excessive runoff and erosion, and the effects of instream activities such as gravel mining are among the problems observed.

Table Hc01: Unique terrestrial habitats found in the Spring River Basin

Unique terrestrial habitats found in the Spring River Basin.

Table Hc02: MDC streambank restoration and habitat improvement projects in the Spring River Basin

Missouri Department of Conservation streambank restoration and habitat improvement projects in the Spring River Basin.

Table Hc03: Location of stream habitat sampling sites (SHAD) in the Spring River basin

Location of stream habitat sampling sites (SHAD) in the Spring River basin.