Habitat Use of Larval and Juvenile Cape Fear shiners (Notropis mekistocholas)
Type of DegreeThesis
DepartmentFisheries and Allied Aquacultures
MetadataShow full item record
The factors responsible for imperilment of freshwater fishes are diverse, but most can be categorized as some form of habitat loss or alteration. Understanding effects of various forms of habitat alteration on single fish species is difficult, since basic knowledge of habitat requirements is usually lacking for non-game fishes. Information on larval and juvenile habitat use is virtually absent for fishes, particularly those listed as imperiled. Cape Fear shiners are a federally endangered species restricted to just five localities in the Cape Fear River drainage, North Carolina. My objectives were to document habitat use of larval and juvenile Cape Fear shiners (Notropis mekistocholas), in both natural and lab settings so that a better understanding of habitat requirements inall life stages can be achieved for conservation purposes. I measured habitat parameters of areas used by Cape Fear shiners in the summers of 2007 and 2008 in the Rocky River, NC. Field data suggest larvae use more shallow depths and have a tendency to use reduced water velocities than adults. Juveniles 15-25 mm TL often school with adults. Experimental tanks were used to separate habitat variables in a lab setting with captivebred individuals in order to validate field observations. In the mesolarval, metalarval, and multiple juvenile stages, Cape Fear shiners preferentially chose flow and depth microhabitats. In the laboratory larvae showed preferences for moderate current velocities and shallow depths. Juveniles showed preferences for moderate and swift current velocities and deep depths. These findings were consistent with field observations. Data suggests that like adults, Cape Fear shiners are patch restricted in early life stages, and movement and dispersal between patches is limited. Protection of habitat patches is important for conservation of this species.