Black Bass Habitat Use and Availability at Multiple Scales in Middle Chattahoochee River Tributaries
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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The focus of this study was on tributaries of the Middle Chattahoochee River where Shoal Bass Micropterus cataractae and Chattahoochee Bass Micropterus chattahoochae are experiencing declines, mainly due to anthropogenic disturbances of streams and introductions of non-native congeners. This study examined habitat use of black bass and the presence/absence of Shoal Bass and Chattahoochee Bass at multiple scales. Point and transect surveys, canoe surveys, side-scan sonar mapping techniques, and available land use data were used to measure habitat characteristics at each scale. Black bass were sampled by both backpack electrofishing and by canoe-mounted electrofishing. Results indicated that suitable habitat for Shoal Bass included rocky boulder habitats with shallow depths and wide stream banks in heavily forested areas of large watersheds and Chattahoochee Bass were found in highly natural and forested land cover areas small watersheds in wider sections of the stream in rocky and shallow fast-moving shoal habitats. Surveys revealed that Shoal Bass populations can persist in smaller watersheds with enough ideal habitat. Chattahoochee Bass would likely benefit from habitat restoration for Shoal Bass in streams where they are sympatric. Side-scan sonar surveys were conducted on smaller streams, smaller than previously attempted, and results indicated that this method was useful to map habitat in these systems. Conclusions of this study indicated that priority streams for Shoal Bass and/or Chattahoochee Bass restoration, restocking efforts, and the reduction in non-native bass populations included the Dog River, Centralhatchee, Hillabahatchee, Wehadkee, Mountain Oak, and Osanippa creeks.