Within the Ouachita National Forest, roads and streams intersect each other thousands of times. Many of these road crossings alter stream hydrology and potentially limit longitudinal fish movement. To investigate the potential impacts of these road crossings on fish passage, we monitored movements of 3 native fish species (n = 2,171) individually tagged with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in 2012 and 2013. We installed solar-powered RFID stations in 2 streams with road crossings and 2 reference streams without road crossings. Each of the 4 monitoring stations included a pair of antennas bracketing a road crossing (or similarly-sized natural reach) to continuously detect upstream or downstream passage. To monitor natural reference streams, we avoided full-duplex RFID technology, which would have required rigid in-stream structures. Alternatively, we utilized new applications of RFID technology such as direct in-stream installation of half-duplex wire antennas and figure-eight crossover antenna designs. These techniques appear promising, but technical difficulties limited the consistency of fish passage detection and consequently limited the strength of ecological conclusions. Even so, we report evidence that fish passed at significantly higher rates across reference reaches than reaches with road crossings. Furthermore, Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) passed reference reaches at significantly higher rates than Highland Stonerollers (Campostoma spadiceum), which passed at higher rates than Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis). Stream intermittency appeared to exacerbate reduced passage rates associated with the road crossings.
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science
MacLeod, Ian R. and Gagen, Charles J., "New Applications of Radio Frequency Identification Stations for Monitoring Fish Passage through Headwater Road Crossings and Natural Reaches" (2018). Faculty Publications - Biological Sciences. 4.