We designed a digital underwater video camera system to monitor nesting centrarchid behavior in the Tallapoosa River, Alabama, 20 km below a peaking hydropower dam with a highly variable flow regime. Major components of the system included a digital video recorder, multiple underwater cameras, and specially fabricated substrate stakes. The innovative design of the substrate stakes allowed us to effectively observe nesting redbreast sunfish Lepomis auritus in a highly regulated river. Substrate stakes, which were constructed for the specific substratum complex (i.e., sand, gravel, and cobble) identified at our study site, were able to withstand a discharge level of approximately 300 m3/s and allowed us to simultaneously record 10 active nests before and during water releases from the dam. We believe our technique will be valuable for other researchers that work in regulated rivers to quantify behavior of aquatic fauna in response to a discharge disturbance.
Additional publication details
A digital underwater video camera system for aquatic research in regulated rivers