Title page for ETD etd-11212012-040243

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Scott, Mark Thomas
URN etd-11212012-040243
Title Larval fish abundance and habitat associations in backwaters and main channel borders of the Kanawha River
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nielsen, Larry A. Committee Chair
Giles, Robert H. Jr. Committee Member
Orth, Donald J. Committee Member
  • Fishes
Date of Defense 1988-11-15
Availability restricted
Larval fish distributions were determined in the lower Winfield Pool, Kanawha River, West

85, Virginia, using a 0.5-m plankton net and a 1-m2 dropbox. Five habitats were sampled with the

plankton net, 3 habitats with the dropbox. The 5 deep water water habitats, greater than 1.5-m

in depth, sampled by the plankton net included surface tows in Bill’s Creek backwater, main

channel border upstream and downstream of Little Guano backwater, and Little Guano Creek

backwater, where deep tows (1.5 m deep) were also taken. The 3 shallow water habitats, less

than 1 m in depth, sampled by the dropbox included open water over silt substrate, open water over a sand substrate, and emergent vegetation. Lepomis species, emerald shiners (Notropis atherinoides), and gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) were the dominant taxa. The emerald shiner taxa could also have included some larvae of Notropis species which are also

present in the Kanawha River but whose larvae have not been described. Overall, the mean

total larval density did not differ between the backwater or the main channel borders but the

species associated with each habitat differed greatly. The Lepomis larvae were found

predominantly in backwater areas. These areas provide suitable spawning sites for many

centrarchids of this river. Upon leaving the nest, the Lepomis larvae moved into the deeper

open water areas within the backwater. After reaching the juvenile stage, these same larvae

returned to the shallow water habitats where they inhabited vegetated areas. Emerald shiner larvae, while present in both backwater and main channel habitats, were most abundant in the

main channel borders. This is probably a result of their parent’s pelagic spawning strategy. In all habitats, emerald shiner larvae predominated in the upper 1 m of water. Upon becoming

larger, the emerald shiner larvae appeared in the backwaters. This increase in numbers

could be due to movement, differential mortality, or higher growth rates. Other cyprinids

(excluding emerald shiners and carp) were equally abundant in both backwater and main

channel areas. These other cyprinid larvae were also distributed equally, Gizzard shad

larvae were found predominantly in the main channel borders. Presumably, these higher

densities were the result of main channel spawning. The gizzard shad larvae present in the

backwater areas were distributed evenly throughout the water column. Overall, the

backwaters were important for the nest-building species found in the river and also for the

larger larvae of the pelagic species, and thus acts as a nursery area for these species.

Therefore, the backwaters do seem to be important for the fishery of the Kanawha River.

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