Light traps were used to sample the age-0 year class of fish communities in the Apalachicola River and associated floodplain water bodies of River Styx and Battle Bend, Florida, in 2006-2007. A total of 629 light traps were deployed during the spring and early summer months (341 between March 15 and June 6, 2006; 288 between March 9 and July 3, 2007). For combined years, 13.8 percent of traps were empty and a total of 20,813 age-0 fish were captured representing at least 40 taxa of 29 genera and 16 families. Trap catches were dominated by relatively few species, with the most abundant groups represented by cyprinids, centrarchids, percids, and catostomids. Six taxa accounted for about 80 percent of all fish collected: Micropterus spp. (28.9 percent), Notropis texanus (28.9 percent), Lepomis macrochirus (7.9 percent), Carpiodes cyprinus (6.2 percent), Cyprinidae sp. (4.6 percent), and Minytrema melanops (4.2 percent). Based on chronological appearance in light traps and catch-per-unit effort, including data from previous years of sampling, peak spawning periods for most species occurred between early March and mid-June. A complementary telemetry study of pre-reproductive adults of select target species (Micropterus spp., Lepomis spp., and M. melanops) revealed distinct patterns of habitat use, with some individual fish exclusively utilizing mainstem river habitat or floodplain habitat during spawning and post-spawning periods, and other individuals migrating between habitats. A comparison of light-trap catches between a pre-enhancement, high-water year (2003) and post-enhancement, low-water year (2007) for the oxbow at Battle Bend revealed some difference in community composition, with slightly greater values of diversity and evenness indices in 2007. Two dominant species, Lepomis macrochirus and Micropterus salmoides, were substantially greater in relative abundance among all age-0 fish collected in 2007 in comparison to 2003. Excavation of sediments at the mouth of Battle Bend improved river-floodplain connectivity during low flows such as occurred in 2007 and likely provided greater access and availability of fish spawning and nursery habitats.
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USGS Numbered Series
Composition of Age-0 Fish Assemblages in the Apalachicola River, River Styx, and Battle Bend, Florida