Efficiency of sampling sunfishes using snorkeling in clear, warmwater streams of the south-central United States

Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
By:  and 



The continued evaluation of fish-sampling gears and methods is essential to identify their applicability across environmental conditions and among species. Although limited by visibility, snorkeling has potential advantages relative to other fish-sampling gears in wadeable streams (e.g., minimally intrusive, cost effective, and appropriate in deeper areas). Clear water is common to warm-water streams; however, the use of snorkeling for monitoring stream-fish populations has largely focused on cold-water systems. To assess relative snorkeling efficiency in warm-water streams, we compared standardized single-pass snorkel counts to tow-barge electrofishing abundance estimates for six sunfishes (Centrarchidae) in the Ozark Highlands ecoregion of northwest Oklahoma and southwest Missouri under relatively similar environmental conditions (i.e., clear water, cobble substrates, low-flow conditions). Snorkeling efficiency was variable among sunfishes and consistently low for species with cryptic traits and habitat use. We also did not detect cryptic sunfishes (i.e., a single individual was not encountered) using snorkeling at multiple stream reaches where estimated abundance was > 50 within a 0.5- to 1.0-km stream reach. Our findings indicate that snorkeling has applications for monitoring sunfish populations and assemblages when using an abundance estimator or accounting for imperfect detection; however, it is inappropriate for estimating population size of cryptic sunfishes. We encourage continued research into the applicability of snorkeling to estimate warm-water stream fish abundance.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Efficiency of sampling sunfishes using snorkeling in clear, warmwater streams of the south-central United States
Series title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
DOI 10.3996/032018-JFWM-027
Volume 9
Issue 2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Allen Press
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 8 p.
First page 602
Last page 609
Country United States
State Missouri, Oklahoma
Other Geospatial Ozark Highlands
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