Assessing effects of stocked trout on nongame fish assemblages in southern Appalachian Mountain streams

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
NCWRC; North Carolina State University; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Wildlife Management Institute
By:  and 

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Abstract

Fisheries managers are faced with the challenge of balancing the management of recreational fisheries with that of conserving native species and preserving ecological integrity. The negative effects that nonnative trout species exert on native trout are well documented and include alteration of competitive interactions, habitat use, and production. However, the effects that nonnative trout may exert on nongame fish assemblages are poorly understood. Our objectives were to quantify the effects of trout stocking on native nongame fish assemblages intensively on one newly stocked river, the North Toe River, North Carolina, and extensively on other southern Appalachian Mountain streams that are annually stocked with trout. In the intensive study, we adopted a before-after, control-impact (BACI) experimental design to detect short-term effects on the nongame fish assemblage and found no significant differences in fish density, species richness, species diversity, or fish microhabitat use associated with trout stocking. We observed differences in fish microhabitat use between years, however, which suggests there is a response to environmental changes, such as the flow regime, which influence available habitat. In the extensive study, we sampled paired stocked and unstocked stream reaches to detect long-term effects from trout stocking; however, we detected no differences in nongame fish density, species richness, species diversity, or population size structure between paired sites. Our results revealed high inherent system variation caused by natural and anthropogenic factors that appear to overwhelm any acute or chronic effect of stocked trout. Furthermore, hatchery-reared trout may be poor competitors in a natural setting and exert a minimal or undetectable impact on native fish assemblages in these streams. These findings provide quantitative results necessary to assist agencies in strategic planning and decision making associated with trout fisheries, stream management, and conservation of native fishes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Assessing effects of stocked trout on nongame fish assemblages in southern Appalachian Mountain streams
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2013.815662
Volume 142
Issue 6
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Publisher location Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 13 p.
First page 1495
Last page 1507
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N