Effect of substrate size on sympatric sand darter benthic habitat preferences

Journal of Freshwater Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

The western sand darter, Ammocrypta clara, and the eastern sand darter, A. pellucida, are sand-dwelling fishes that have undergone range-wide population declines, presumably owing to habitat loss. Habitat use studies have been conducted for the eastern sand darter, but literature on the western sand darter remains sparse. To evaluate substrate selection and preference, western and eastern sand darters were collected from the Elk River, West Virginia, one of the few remaining rivers where both species occur sympatrically. In the laboratory, individuals were given the choice to bury into five equally available and randomly positioned substrates ranging from fine sand to granule gravel (0.12–4.0 mm). The western sand darter selected for coarse and medium sand, while the eastern sand darter was more of a generalist selecting for fine, medium, and coarse sand. Substrate selection was significantly different (p = 0.02) between species in the same environment, where the western sand darter preferred coarser substrate more often compared to the eastern sand darter. Habitat degradation is often a limiting factor for many species of rare freshwater fish, and results from this study suggest that western and eastern sand darters may respond differently to variations in benthic substrate composition.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effect of substrate size on sympatric sand darter benthic habitat preferences
Series title Journal of Freshwater Ecology
DOI 10.1080/02705060.2017.1319880
Volume 32
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 455
Last page 465
Country United States
State West Virginia
Other Geospatial Elk River