Prepositioned areal electrofishing devices (PAEDs) are used to evaluate microhabitat use by fishes because they minimize fright biases associated with traditional electrofishing techniques (e.g., boat electrofishing). Similarly, fixed underwater videography (FUV) is commonly used to minimize the effect of observers on fish behavior. The specific objectives of this research were to evaluate estimates of taxonomic occurrence and diversity between PAEDs and FUV and determine an appropriate time interval between positioning and electrifying of a PAED to reduce effects of PAED positioning on fish occurrence. Video cameras were positioned instream at 28 locations on the Kootenai River, Idaho, prior to PAED deployment such that the entire immobilization zone of the PAED was captured on camera. Following a 4-min acclimation period, cameras recorded fish behavior approximately 15 min prior to and 20 min following PAED deployment. Electrical current was applied to the PAEDs for 20 s immediately following the FUV procedure, and immobilized fishes were collected and processed. Video footage was subsampled in the laboratory, and fishes in the video were identified and enumerated in 5-s or 20-s intervals. Fixed underwater videography sampled more taxa than PAEDs at any given site. However, fishes sampled with FUV were difficult to identify, and most individuals were classified as “unidentifiable.” Consequently, direct comparisons between FUV and PAEDs are limited. Our results indicate that PAEDs should remain undisturbed for a minimum of 12 min before the equipment is electrified. Both PAEDs and FUV provide an estimate of taxonomic occurrence, but logistical and financial constraints along with project objectives must be considered when selecting between these 2 gear types. Results from this study provide information on the effectiveness of each gear type as it relates to the characterization of riverine fish assemblages at a small spatial scale.
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Vol. 78 • No. 1