David J. Eisenhour, Brooke A. Washburn
Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 77 (1), 19-24, (1 January 2016) https://doi.org/10.3101/1098-7096-77.1.19
KEYWORDS: darters, pelagic, movements, VIE tags, conservation, Percina stictogaster
We compared the long-distance movements of the Frecklebelly Darter, Percina stictogaster, a pelagic fish species, to those of five other sympatric benthic or semipelagic darters. In four reaches of the Red River, Kentucky we tagged 942 individuals of six darter species using subcutaneous injections of visible implant fluorescent elastomer (VIE) from May 2012 to May 2013. These reaches, plus an additional four reaches, were surveyed by snorkeling or seining to detect previously tagged fishes. Over seven sampling sessions spanning June 2012 to November 2013 a total of 58 tagged darters were detected, including 20 P. stictogaster. Most darters were detected in the same reach in which they were tagged; inter-reach movements occurred more in pelagic (3 of 20) and semipelagic species (2 of 4) (both Percina) than in benthic species (2 of 34, all Etheostoma). Most (6 of 7) inter-reach movements were upstream. The relatively high dispersal tendencies of Percina darters suggest these darters are particularly vulnerable to in-stream barriers and that maintaining connectivity among populations should be a critical management goal.