Kyle D. Zimmer
Kyle D. Zimmer

Kyle is originally from Mabel, MN. He obtained a B.A. in Biology in 1992 from Luther College, Decorah, IA, and a M.S. in Biology in 1994 from St. Cloud (MN) State University. He completed his Ph.D. in Zoology at North Dakota State University in May 2001, and is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Sterner (Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota,  612-624-6297

Effects of Fathead Minnows and Drainage on Wetland Ecosystems

Fellow:  Kyle D. Zimmer, Department of Biological Sciences, NDSU

Advisor:  Malcolm Butler, Professor of Biological Sciences, NDSU

Matching Support: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN; Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Winnipeg, Manitoba; USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, ND

Degree Progress:  Ph.D., May 2001 

Dissertation Abstract: Many studies have shown that fish can influence the structure and processes of aquatic ecosystems, but studies with replication at the ecosystem level are rare, as are studies involving wetlands. Some wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region of North America support fish communities dominated by fathead minnows while others are fishless, providing an opportunity to assess the influence of these fish on wetland ecosystems. Additionally, extensive drainage of prairie wetlands has led to restoration of thousands of basins, but the success of these efforts is poorly known. 

I assessed the effects of fathead minnows and prior drainage on characteristics of prairie wetlands by studying 20 semipermanent wetlands in Minnesota from 1996-1999. I used a 2´2 factorial design to examine the effects of minnows (presence/absence) and drainage (restored/non-drained) on the abundances of aquatic invertebrates, aquatic macrophytes, and amphibians, as well as water-column levels of chlorophyll a, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and turbidity. Results showed that presence/absence of fathead minnows is an important determinant of many biotic and abiotic characteristics of prairie wetlands. Wetlands with minnows had significantly fewer aquatic insects, large and small-bodied cladocerans, calanoid copepods, ostracods, and larval tiger salamanders, as well as a higher abundance of corixids and higher levels of turbidity and chlorophyll a. In contrast, higher concentrations of phosphorus in restored basins was the only consistent history effect, and no consistent fishxhistory interactions were detected. 

From a management perspective, these effects should be considered prior to landscape manipulations that alter the regional proportion of basins supporting fathead minnow populations.

A copy of the dissertation can be obtained from Prof. M.G. Butler. 


Dr. Malcom G. Butler

Advisor: Dr. Malcolm G. Butler

Professor of Zoology

North Dakota State University