Effects of an extreme flood event on federally endangered Diamond Darter abundances

The American Midland Naturalist
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Abstract

Extreme flood events can substantially affect riverine systems, modifying instream habitat and influencing fish assemblages and densities. Rare species are especially vulnerable to these disturbance events because of their small population size and often reduced phenotypic heterogeneity. In June 2016 the lower Elk River in West Virginia experienced severe flooding, resulting in a peak discharge that exceeded the 0.005 annual exceedance probability (>200 y flood) in the main stem. We obtained pre-flood and postflood population count data and estimated abundances for one cohort of the federally endangered Diamond Darter (Crystallaria cincotta) at 15 sites. While both the total count data and total estimated abundance decreased following the flood, our analyses did not indicate the extreme flood event strongly impacted Diamond Darter abundance. This indicates individuals are able to withstand high velocities and resist displacement or mortality. In addition site-level abundances were estimated at three sentinel sites during 2015 and 2016 using a multinomial N-mixture model that accounted for variation in detectability resulting from water temperature. Mean estimated abundance varied among the three sites and between the 2 y. Our results suggest there is substantial variation in year-class strength between the two cohorts we sampled. It is suggested that survey efforts at established sentinel sites be continued on an annual basis in order to help determine factors influencing year-class strength.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of an extreme flood event on federally endangered Diamond Darter abundances
Series title The American Midland Naturalist
DOI 10.1674/0003-0031-180.1.108
Volume 180
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher United States Department of Agriculture
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 108
Last page 118
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