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A SURVEY OF THE MOORE CREEK FISH FAUNA, BALDWIN COUNTY, GEORGIA.

Dennis Parmley [1,3]

Gabe Gaddis [2]

ABSTRACT

Between November 1997 and March 1998, the fish fauna of Moore Creek, Baldwin County, central Georgia was surveyed. A total of 2144 fish were collected from five habitats along a 1 km section of the stream. Represented in the fish fauna were nine families consisting of 19 species. At the family level, Cyprinidae dominated the fauna comprising 70 percent of all fish collected. Within the cyprinid family, Yellowfin Shiners (Notropis lutipinnis) and Bluehead Chubs (Nocomis leptocephalus) were the most abundant species and dominated catches from all but one habitat. The monotypic family Apredoderidae was the second most dominant family, representing 16 percent of the total fish collected. Apredoderus sayanus was the third most abundant species and was most common in backwater pool habitats.

Key Words: fish fauna, Moore Creek, Baldwin County, central Georgia

INTRODUCTION

While the freshwater fish fauna of the southeastern United States has been documented in some detail (e.g., 1-4), very few studies have been reported on creek or stream fish faunas of the central Georgia region. Seehorn [5] did provide some faunal survey information of the fishes occurring in southeastern national forests. More recently, Parmley and Hall [6] surveyed the fishes of Champion Creek of Baldwin County, central Georgia. Here we present the findings of a field survey of the fish fauna of Moore Creek, a typical Piedmont stream in central Georgia. The primary objectives of the survey were to document diversity aspects of the Moore Creek fish fauna.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

STUDY AREA - Moore Creek is a typical lower Piedmont clear water third order stream (Fig. 1). It originates in the lower Piedmont and terminates along the interface of the coastal plain. The selected study section of Moore Creek was a 1 km section located in Baldwin Co., central Georgia. Here the creek is characterized as a shallow, clear water creek flowing generally southeast and usually covered by a relatively dense canopy (70-75% coverage). At seasonal baseflow Moore Creek is a series of meanders confined within well-defined banks six to eight feet high. Bedload ranged from fine silt to course gravel. During the survey period, water temperature averaged 52.2[degrees] Fahrenheit (range, 49-59[degrees]F) and dissolved oxygen averaged 9.3 ppm (range, 7.0-10.1 ppm). Stream width averaged 2.13 meters (range, 1.02-3.15 meters). Flow rates are reported for each habitat respectively.

Habitats Sampled - Five habitats consistently present in Moore Creek were sampled. These included: bank runs, undercut runs, midstream runs, log pools, and backwater pools (each defined below). Two habitats are depicted in Figure 1.

Bank Run - This habitat was characterized as being a run (straight and usually at least 10 meters long) along a bank with no erosion undercutting into the bank. Water depths ranged from shallow ([less than or equal to] 150 mm) to 670 mm. Mean flow was 37.50 cubic centimeters per second (ccs).

Undercut Run - This habitat was characterized as being a bank run in which water had significantly undercut the bank, adding dimension to the habitat, (i.e., protective cover, eddies, breaks in the current, and possibly diversity in food sources). This habitat ranged from shallow to about 670 mm in depth. Mean flow was 43.06 ccs.

Midstream Run - This habitat was not associated with banks or pools in any way, but rather was a central channel, usually through a bed of sand or gravel. Generally, midstream runs were shallow, ranging from 150 to 355 mm. Mean flow was relatively high at 51.86 ccs.

Log Pool - This habitat was created by water flow over a deadfall (i.e., any limb, log, or stump which water could flow over) located within a creek channel. Log pools were shallow (200 to 455 mm) and always located immediately downstream of a deadfall. Mean flow was 33.92 ccs.

Backwater Pool - This habitat was created by stream flows over deadfalls, but differed from log pools in that the deadfall was typically above the water level and positioned at or near the bank. This produced a relatively deep pool (300 to 1210 mm) distinct from channels or more centrally located and shallower log pools. This habitat was usually covered with leaf litter.

FISH SAMPLING - The study area was sampled during the winter months of November and December of 1997 and January, February and March of 1998. Ten sampling stations were established, each 30.5 meters long (midstream length) separated by a 76.0 meter stretch (midstream length) of unsampled stream. Two stations per month were operated during the sampling period with each station sampled using 20 standard minnow traps (4.2 X 19 cm, funnel opening 4-5 cm, mesh size 0.6 cm) that were open 10 consecutive days.

Minnow traps were chosen as sampling gear over more traditionally used hand dip nets and seines for the following reasons. During the study period dip nets and seines were used to sample the creek on six different occasions. Additionally, but prior to the Moore Creek study, two other central Georgia streams of similar size and physical characteristics as Moore Creek (Champion Creek and Fishing Creek) were sampled with these nets on eight occasions during summer and winter months of 1997 and 1998. In all cases, nets proved less effective than minnow traps at sampling the fish fauna. Small central Georgia streams are typically shallow and littered with rocks and/or are comprised of narrow channels making it difficult (often impossible) to utilize nets as sampling gear. It is not uncommon to encounter relatively long sections ([greater than or equal to] 30 m) in these creeks where the water is too shallow to effectively utilize nets, but minnow traps can be partially buried and successfully used to sample fish. In fact, four of the Moore Creek species taken by minnow traps were never taken by nets. Additionally, Parmley and Hall (6, 8) successfully used minnow traps to sample the fish fauna of Champion Creek (Baldwin Co.) when, again, nets failed to document two species and to produce the numbers of individuals that was achieved with minnow traps.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

A total of 2144 fishes were collected during the survey period, representing 9 families and 19 species (Table I). At the family level, Cyprinidae dominated the fauna and represent 70 percent of all fish collected. Two cyprinids, the Yellowfin Shiner (Notropis lutipinnis) and Bluehead Chub (Nocomis leptocephalus), were the most abundant species and dominated catches from all but one habitat (Table I). Aphredoderidae was the second most dominant family, representing 16 percent of the total fish collected and its single species, Apredoderus sayanus, ranked third in abundance.

No specimens of larger species such as Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), Crappie (Pomoxis ssp.), or large individuals of the Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) were collected by nets or minnow traps. This size class may be seasonal transients with late spring and early summer high flows. Parmley and Hall (8) found that larger species in a similar sized central Georgia stream were transient with high flows and subsequent deeper water.

Habitat Accounts - For each of the Moore Creek habitats sampled, the following is given: (1) the total number of fish collected from each habitat (Table I), (2) the percent of the total number of individuals collected in that habitat (relative abundance by habitat; Fig. 2A), and (3) the percent of the total number of species collected in that habitat (species richness by habitat; Fig. 2B).

Bank Run - A total of 372 fish were collected from this habitat, compromising 17.35 percent of all fishes collected. Fourteen of the 19 species collected in total were found in this habitat (73.68 percent).

Undercut Run - A total of 781 fish were collected from this habitat, comprising 36.43 percent of all fishes collected. Seventeen species (89.47 percent of the total number of species) were found in this habitat suggesting it was the richest habitat in terms of species diversity.

Midstream Run - A total of 213 fishes were collected from this habitat (9.93 percent of all fishes collected). Fourteen species (73.68 percent of the total) were collected in this habitat.

Log Pool - Only 121 fish (5.64 percent of all fishes collected) were collected from this habitat. Additionally, only 10 species (52.63 percent of the total) were collected in the habitat.

Backwater Pool - A total of 657 fishes were collected from this habitat, comprising 30.6 percent of all the fishes collected. Fourteen species (73.7 percent of the total) were collected from this habitat.

SPECIES ACCOUNTS - Included in the following species accounts are percent abundance and percent occurrence in each habitat. Taxonomy follows Page and Burr (4) and Lee et al. (3).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We wish to especially thank David Walters of the Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia for aiding with some of the fish identifications. Many Georgia College biology students helped with various field aspects of the project, for which we are grateful. We kindly thank Linda Chandler for editing and improving an early draft of this manuscript. This project was supported in part by a Faculty Research Grant awarded by the Office of Research Services, Georgia College & State University.

(1.) Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, Georgia 31061

(2.) Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division One Conservation Way, Suite 300 Brunswick, Georgia 31520

(3.) Authorship equally shared, senior authorship determined solely by the flip of a coin.

Address all correspondence to D. Parmley

REFERENCES

(1.) Fowler H: A study of the fishes of the southern Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Wichersham Printing Co, Philadelphia. 1945.

(2.) Dahlber MD and Scott DC: The fresh water fishes of Georgia. Bull Georgia Acad Sci 29:1-64, 1971.

(3.) Lee DS, Gilbert CR, Hocutt CH, Jenkins RE, McAllister DE and Stauffer JR (eds.). Et seq: Altas of North American Fresh water Fishes. Raleigh, North Carolina St Mus Natu Hist. 1980.

(4.) Page LM and Burr BM: Freshwater fishes. Peterson Field Guide, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 1991.

(5.) Seehorn ME: Fishes of southeastern national forests. Proceed 29th Ann Confer Southeastern Assoc Game and Fish Commissioners 29:10-27, 1975.

(6.) Parmley D. and Hall J: A survey of the fishes of a central Georgia Piedmont Creek. Final Report 3-93, Georgia Dept Nat Res, Nongame Div. 1993.

(7.) Pflieger WL: The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Dept. Conservation. 1978.

(8.) Parmley D and Hall J: Observations on the habitat requirements of the tadpole madtom (Noturus gyrinus) in central Georgia. Georgia J Sci 51:167-171, 1993.

[Graph omitted]

[Graph omitted]
Table I
Fish species collected in Moore Creek by number of individuals per
habitat.
 Habitat [*]
Taxon BR UR MR LP BP Total
Anguillidae
Anguilla rostrata 1 2 1 0 5
Esocidae
Esox americanus 0 1 0 0 0 1
Cyprinidae
Hybopsis rubrifrons 26 48 15 17 42 148
Nocomis leptocephalus 122 219 63 29 88 521
Notemigonus crysoleucas 0 0 1 0 0 1
Notropis lutipinnis 136 334 87 48 160 765
Semotilus atromaculatus 2 11 2 1 41 57
Catostomidae
Erimyzon oblongus 0 12 0 0 6 18
Moxostoma rupiscartes 14 30 10 3 17 74
Ictaluridae
Ameiurus platycephalus 0 3 1 2 12 18
Noturus gyrinus 7 19 5 2 5 38
Noturus insignis 4 4 1 0 1 10
Aphredoderidae
Aphredoderus sayanus 37 70 13 15 203 338
Poeciliidae
Gambusia affinis 0 0 0 0 4 4
Centrarchidae
Lepomis punctatus 4 7 3 2 65 81
Lepomis cyanellus 1 1 0 0 0 2
Percidae
Etheostoma inscriptum 10 9 9 2 0 30
Etheostoma hopkinsi 5 10 2 0 12 29
Percina nigrofasciata 3 1 0 0 0 4
TOTAL 372 781 213 121 657 2144
(*)Habitat abbreviations are: BR, bank run; UR, undercut run; MR,
midstream run; LP, log pool; and BP, backwater pool.


ANGUILLIDAE

American Eel

(Anguilla rostrata)

Eels were rare, representing only 0.2 percent of all fish collected. This species was found about equally in four habitats (Table 1).

APHREDODERIDAE

Pirate Perch

(Aphredoderus sayanus)

Pirate perch were common in Moore Greek, comprising 16 percent of all fish collected. This species were taken in all five habitats (Table 1), but it seemed to prefer backwater pools where 60 percent of all individuals were collected.

CATOSTOMIDAE

Creek Chubsucker

(Erimyzon oblongus)

This species was the least common of the two castostomids sampled, and overall, was uncommon in the creek compromising only 0.8 percent of all fishes collected. The species was collected in three habitats (Table I), although 66.7 percent of the individuals came from undercut runs.

Striped Jumprock

(Moxostoma rupiscartes)

The Striped Jumprock was relatively common within the survey area, comprising 3.5 percent of all fishes collected. While this species was sampled from all five habitats, it was most common in undercut runs where 40.5 percent of the individuals were collected.

CENTRARCHIDAE

Green Sunfish

(Lepomis cyanellus)

The Green Sunfish is not indigenous to the study area. According to Page & Burr (4), this species has been widely introduced throughout North America, which likely explains its presence in Moore Creek. Lepomis cyanellus was rare as only two individuals were collected ([less than]1.0 percent of all fishes collected) from run habitats.

Spotted Sunfish

(Lepomis punctatus)

This species was common within the survey area, comprising 3.8 percent of all fishes collected. A strong habitat preference was suggested for the Spotted Sunfish in backwater pools as 80.2 percent were captured there.

CYPRINIDAE

Rosyface Chub

(Hybopsis rubrifrons)

This species was common within the survey area comprising 6.9 percent of all fishes collected. Hybopsis rubrifrons were collected from all five habitats (Table 1), but were most common in undercut runs and backwater pools (32.4 and 28.4 percent respectively).

Bluehead Chub

(Nocomis leptocephalus)

The Bluehead Chub was common within the survey area, comprising 24.3 percent of all fishes collected. While this taxon was sampled from all five habitats (Table 1), it was most common in undercut runs (42.0 percent of all individuals collected).

Yellowfin Shiner

(Notropis lutipinnis)

This was the most abundant species in Moore Creek, representing 35.7 percent of all fish collected. Although the species was collected from all five habitats, it appeared to have a preference for undercut runs where 44.7 percent of all 765 individuals were captured.

Golden Shiner

(Notemigonus crysoleucas)

The Golden Shiner was rare within the survey area ([less than or equal to]1.0 percent of all fishes collected), with only a single individual sampled. Due to the presumed rarity of this species, percent habitat occurrence was not determined.

Creek Chub

(Semotilus atromaculatus)

This species was relatively common in the study area, exhibiting a 2.7 percent abundance. While Semotilus atromaculatus was collected from all five habitats, backwater pools appeared to be preferred by this species as 71.9 percent of all Creek Chubs sampled were from this habitat. The majority of individuals collected were juveniles. This species is typically associated with headwater streams such as Moore Creek. (4).

ESOCIDAE

Redfin Pickerel

(Esox americanus)

A single juvenile Redfin Pickerel was collected during the survey. This species may have been more common than is indicated here, as its reliance on eyesight in feeding (e.g., 7) may have allowed it to avoid traps.

PERCIDAE

Blackbanded Darter

(Percina nigrofasciata)

The Blackbanded Darter represents the only darter of the genus Percina collected during the study. Percina nigrofasciata was rare in the study area, with only four individuals collected ([less than]1.0 percent of all fishes sampled). Consequently, habitat occurrence was not determined.

Christmas Darter

(Etheostoma hopkinsi)

The Christmas Darter was uncommon within the survey area (1.4 percent of all fishes sampled). The majority of individuals were taken from two characteristically different habitats: undercut runs and backwater pools (34.5 and 41.4 percent of all individuals collected respectively).

Turquoise Darter

(Etheostoma inscriptum)

This darter was also uncommon within the survey area (1.4 percent of all fishes sampled). The Turquoise Dater exhibited a percent occurrence which was relatively even among the three different run habitats (bank runs, 33.3 percent; undercut runs, 30.0 percent; and midstream runs, 30.0 percent).

POECILIDAR

Mosquitofish

(Gambusia affinis)

Mosquitofish were rare in the study area, comprising [less than]1.0 percent of all fish collected. A total of four fish were sampled, all of which came from backwater pool habitats.

ICTALURIDAE

Flat Bullhead

(Ameiurus platycephalus)

Ameriurus platycephalus was rare within the study area, comprising [less than]1.0 percent of all fishes sampled. While this fish was sampled from five habitats, percent habitat occurrence was exceptionally high from backwater pool habitats (66.7 percent).

Tadpole Madtom

(Noturus gyrinus)

The Tadpole Madtom was relatively common in Moore Creek (1.3 percent of all fish collected). This species was sampled from five habitats, but percent habitat occurrence was highest in undercut runs (50.0 percent). These findings are supported by Parmley & Hall (8), who found that in a central Georgia stream similar to Moore Creek in size and physical characteristics (Champion Creek) this species most commonly inhabited undercut runs.

Margined Madtom

(Noturus insignis)

This species was uncommon within the survey area, comprising [less than]1.0 percent of all fishes collected. While this species was collected from four habitats, most individuals were sampled equally from bank runs and undercut runs (40.0 percent respectively).
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Author:Parmley, Dennis; Gaddis, Gabe
Publication:Georgia Journal of Science
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Words:2882
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