Section 24
Chapter 23,849

The distribution of stream fish in the vicinity of Mountain Lake, Virginia

Burton, G.W.; Odum, E.P.

Ecology 26(2): 182-194


ISSN/ISBN: 0012-9658
DOI: 10.2307/1930823
Accession: 023848212

A detailed longitudinal survey of fishes of 5 streams near Mountain Lake; Va., was made over a 3-summer period, 1939-41. Stations were established every 1-2 mi. and worked extensively with seines :and dipnets. 3 of the streams, namely, Little Stony, Sinking Creek, and Spruce Run, are tributaries of the New River (Mississippi drainage) and 2 of the streams, namely, Johns and Craig creeks, flow into the James River (Atlantic drainage). The streams varied in length from 5-34 mi.; stations varied in altitude from 3800 to 1200 ft., in pH from 5.6 to 8.2, and in water temp. from 15[degree] to 22[degree] C. There was a marked longitudinal succession of fishes in all of the streams, changes being more pronounced the greater the altitude change, but distinct differences occurring with but little altitude change. Of the various environmental complexes considered temp., stream size, and gradient of flow appeared to be the most important factors in determining distribution within the streams studied. A temp. of 19[degree] C consistently marked the downstream limit of brook trout (Salvelinus f. fontinalis). Introduced rainbow trout (Salmo gairdnerii irideus) occurred mostly in waters warmer than 19[degree] but were well established only where the gradient was 100 ft./mile or greater. Spruce Run and Sinking Creek demonstrated the effect of stream size since other factors did not vary greatly from source to mouth. These streams showed a gradual increase in number of spp. longitudinally, and headwater spp. tended to range the length of the stream. Gradient of flow appears to be very important and special attention was paid to this factor. The discontinuous distribution of a number of wide ranging spp., e.g., Micropterus d. dolomieu, Rhinichthys atratulus, Thoburnia rho-thoeca, and Catanotus f. flabellaris, seemed to be especially well correlated with sharp changes in stream gradient. No obvious correlation between pH and observed distribution was found, although pH may influence abundance. A conspicuous decrease in both spp. and numbers in the lower half of Johns Creek may possibly be correlated with such biotic factors as impoverished land or the presence of Esox. Of the 31 native spp., only 12 were common to both drainages. 3 of these (Campostoma anomalum, Rhinichthys atratulus, Coitus bairdii), are represented by distinct subspp. in the 2 drainages. Noteworthy occurrences include: Parexoglossum laurae and Poecilichthys osburni (members of highly distinctive and relict Kanawha fauna) in New River tributaries; Nocomis leptocephalus and N. micropogon in both drainages; Notropis albeolus and Nocomis leptocephalus (Atlantic coast forms) in the New River system.

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