Predicting the stability of endangered stonecats in the LaPlatte River, Vermont

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 



Stonecats Noturus flavus in Vermont conform to a rare distribution pattern (as designated by Rabinowitz 1981) because their known distribution within the state is limited to the LaPlatte and Missisquoi rivers. We focused on Stonecats in the LaPlatte River to predict the stability of the population. During 2012–2014, we captured Stonecats via backpack electrofishing; fish were PIT-tagged (>90 mm TL) and marked with visible implant elastomer. Among the 1,671 Stonecats that were captured, 1,252 were PIT-tagged. Only 156 (12%) of the PIT-tagged fish were recaptured, and only 22 of those individuals were recaptured more than once. The Pradel model in Program MARK was used to estimate apparent survival (Φ) and seniority, which were used to derive the rate of population change (λ) for the Stonecat encounter histories we studied. We examined a total of 64 models in our candidate set, with the following covariates: TL at first capture, maximum temperature, season, maximum discharge, and area sampled. Survival estimates were highest in the spring (range of daily Φ = 0.9993–0.9995) and increased with greater TL at first capture. We also estimated increases in capture probability with increasing area sampled. We derived an annual λ of 0.9794, which indicates a slightly decreasing population. However, our λ estimate contained uncertainty that was likely increased due to the low recapture rates. Additional years of data could increase the accuracy of the λ estimate. In the meantime, we have provided insight into Stonecat population parameters that were otherwise unknown.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Predicting the stability of endangered stonecats in the LaPlatte River, Vermont
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2016.1167779
Volume 145
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 10 p.
First page 903
Last page 912
Country United States
State Vermont
Other Geospatial LaPlatte River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details