1 July 2005 Life History of the Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, in a West Virginia Stream
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Though locally abundant throughout the high mountains of West Virginia, intensive studies on the natural history and population structure of the hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, have not been conducted in the state. From 1998–2000 we conducted a mark-recapture study within a 216 × 18 m stream section in east-central West Virginia using diurnal and nocturnal survey methods. Ninety-nine captures of 44 individuals were recorded. Density estimates ranged from 0.8–1.2 individuals/100 m2. The sex ratio was 1.2:1. Sexual dimorphism was apparent, as females were longer and heavier than males. However, the longest males were underweight compared to their predicted mass. This population was highly skewed toward large adults, and larvae and juveniles were not encountered. The mean inter-capture distance was 35.8 m and 95% MCP home range estimates averaged 198 m2. Water depth where hellbenders were captured ranged from 16–56 cm and individuals were never captured in heavily silted areas. Hellbender size was not correlated to rock size and not more than one individual was found beneath a single rock. We suggest that more thorough searches focusing on larval and juvenile habitat are needed before accurate assessments of population health can be made in this and other streams in West Virginia.

W. JEFFREY HUMPHRIES and THOMAS K. PAULEY "Life History of the Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, in a West Virginia Stream," The American Midland Naturalist 154(1), 135-142, (1 July 2005). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031(2005)154[0135:LHOTHC]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 1 November 2004; Published: 1 July 2005
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