Crystal Springs (Helena, MT) as a Potential Fish Refuge for Tenmile Creek Fish Populations
Anthropogenic climate change is likely to produce widespread effects on natural and human systems. For example, as summer temperatures have been increasing, many aquatic ecosystems have been under greater stress. In Lewis and Clark County, MT, Tenmile Creek has been reaching higher temperatures that could become detrimental to fish populations. As a result of these deteriorating conditions, the city of Helena is seeking alternatives to help support the aquatic community in Tenmile Creek. The aim of this study was to examine the possibility of creating a summer refuge for fish in the adjacent ground-fed spring, Crystal Springs. In October of 2018, water temperature, pH, dissolved O2, and nitrate/nitrite levels in Crystal Springs were collected and analyzed, and preliminary data indicates that these variables are within a the ranges required for common fish species in Tenmile Creek. As a potential food source, the species richness of the aquatic macroinvertebrate population was calculated and was lower than expected, but this could be attributed to the fall sampling. The initial results indicate that Crystal Springs has sufficient water quality to sustain fish populations. Crystal Springs will be continued to be monitored for changes to the water and macroinvertebrate populations. Implementation of refuge habitats, like Crystal Springs, can provide options for habitat conservation and resilience of wildlife populations to future climate changes and other threats.