Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Sherry L. Harrel

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

Charles L. Elliott

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Third Advisor

Michael A. Floyd

Department Affiliation

Other

Abstract

The Kentucky Arrow Darter (KAD), Etheostoma spilotum, is an endemic species to the Upper Kentucky River Basin and is currently proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The ecology and population status of this benthic species is poorly understood, so this study was designed to investigate the species’ movement capabilities, population dynamics, and overall ecology in two streams (Gilberts Big and Elisha Creek) in the Red Bird Ranger District, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky. Project objectives included quantification of movement patterns, identification of microhabitat use, and estimation of population size in both streams. Sampling was conducted during three seasons (spring summer, and fall) in 2013 utilizing a probabilistic sampling design, with a total of 752 microhabitat plots being sampled from 23 reaches across those seasons. Utilizing passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags for continuous tracking, movements of 121 KADs ranged from 28-4,078m in both up and downstream directions. Population estimates ranged from 80-1498 individuals but varied depending on stream and season, with the spring season yielding the lowest estimate. Habitat associations between occupied and unoccupied reaches and plots were compared both seasonally and across all seasons. Results suggested that pool habitats with cobble, higher mean depths, and lower composition of sand, gravel, and boulders were more commonly associated with KAD presence.

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