The channel darter, Percina copelandi, is a small benthic fish with a wide but disjunct distribution across central North America. The development of conservation and recovery strategies for Canadian populations is limited by a lack of knowledge regarding ecology, population size and other factors that affect its distribution and abundance. We sampled five rivers in the Lake Ontario basin to test whether the distribution of P. copelandi reflected riffle habitat characteristics or landscape-scale factors such as surficial geology and natural barriers (waterfalls). At most sites yielding P. copelandi, riffles flowed into deep sand bottomed run or pool habitats. Despite a lack of association with local surficial geology or riffle habitat characteristics, both the upstream limits of P. copelandi occurrence and distribution of suitable habitats reflected the distribution of waterfalls, chutes and bedrock outcroppings. In contrast to P. copelandi, distributions of Etheostoma flabellare, P. caprodes and Rhinichthys cataractae reflected among site differences in riffle habitat. ?? Springer 2005.
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Influence of riffle characteristics, surficial geology, and natural barriers on the distribution of the channel darter, Percina copelandi, in the Lake Ontario basin