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Upper River Fish Habitat Research Photo Story

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Jack McLaren, HFF Doctoral Research Associate and Utah State University PhD student, led a team of HFF staff and interns this summer in field work and data collection to support his study of factors impacting fish habitat in the Henry’s Fork above Island Park Reservoir (the “upper river”). This research was able to continue with added safety and social distancing precautions.

Macrophyte (aquatic vegetation) sampling occurs at 4 different sites in the upper river: Buffalo River, Big Springs, North Fork Club, and Flat Rock Club. Samples are taken at the same sites over time to assess how the macrophytes grow and change.

Sampling locations are selected randomly as GPS points, the sampler is set down in the river channel and macrophytes within the sampler are collected. Then they are identified by species, taken to the lab, dried, and measured to attain biomass (total mass of organisms in a given area or volume).

Staff also assist with snorkeling surveys. The snorkeler looks for fish and once they spot one, a rock is used to mark the spot. Then the data collector takes flow measurements, macrophyte coverage and height data, and records substrate size in the fish’s habitat.

Then a random point 6-12 meters away is selected and the same data is collected to compare the characteristics of the habitat the fish chose vs the habitat in the location it did not choose.

The research also involves nutrient analysis, assessment of total Nitrogen and Phosphorus levels, turbidity samples, water temperature and pH. In this photo, HFF staff member Kamberlee Allison is conducting a titration to test the alkalinity of the water sample

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