Etheostoma sitikuense (Citico Darter), a federally protected fish endemic to the southeastern United States, was extirpated from Abrams Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1957. The species was reintroduced from 1993–2001, but recovery efforts have thus far achieved only partial success, due in part to limited knowledge of Citico Darter habitat use. After distribution of the reintroduced population was established, we monitored Citico Darters in a 4-km section of Abrams Creek using underwater observation. We evaluated macro- and microhabitat use over four summers using principal components analysis to determine macrohabitat variables influencing Citico Darter distribution, and used classification tree methods to analyze microhabitat use. We analyzed dispersal using linear regression to compare historical stocking data with current Citico Darter distribution data. We identified percentage of pools and cobble/small boulder substrates as the most significant macrohabitat variables influencing Citico Darter presence. This species most often occupied microhabitats away from riffles under intermediate-sized cover rocks. Dispersal of reintroduced Citico Darters was limited in Abrams Creek. Results of this study can be used to identify additional reintroduction zones and assist in further conservation efforts.
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Vol. 13 • No. 1