Water chemistry and landscape data were analyzed from streams in the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province in Maryland, USA, to identify patterns in the spatial distribution of the state rare Banded Sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus). Principal component analysis was used to assess patterns in the distribution of this species based on select environmental variables. Mantel tests were conducted to further assess the correlation of environmental variables with the distribution of Banded Sunfish in Maryland while accounting for spatial autocorrelation. The distribution of Banded Sunfish was correlated with acidic stream segments with high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and higher proportions of forest and wetland landscapes in upstream catchments. Conservation of Banded Sunfish will require the preservation of acidic, blackwater habitats through the protection of natural forest and wetland landscapes and limiting of the potentially harmful impacts of agricultural practices and urbanization. Such practices would likely benefit other native fishes throughout the region as well.
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Vol. 2011 • No. 3