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Tuesday, April 24 • 3:25pm - 3:45pm
Longitudinal Zonation and Functional Feeding Groups of Western North Carolina Fishes

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The variation in fish assemblage structure from high to low elevations was observed in two rivers within the French Broad River Basin, Swannanoa River and Little River. The Little River is less disturbed than the Swannanoa River, as the Swannanoa has greater development around it. I hypothesized that the headwater streams of the two rivers would possess smaller, less diverse assemblages of species and functional feeding groups than at lower elevations. I took samples of fish using a Backpack Electrofisher, taking them from riffles and pools at five sites along each stream, starting at the headwaters and ending near the tail waters for a ten-day period in June 2017. The number of species and functional feeding groups increased as the river sites decreased in elevation, as did the number of individuals per feeding group. This displayed a case of longitudinal replacement, which could serve as a model for predicting where certain fish species can be found in greater abundance in future studies. Both rivers surprisingly had the same number of species. The most abundant species found in both the Swannanoa and the Little Rivers was the Mottled Sculpin (17.4% and 15.6% respectively). The Swannanoa River ended up having all seven of the functional groups within its lowest elevation, whereas the Little River’s only had six. This difference indicates that the Swannanoa has a slightly greater capacity for supporting more niches than the Little River, due to its larger size, which may provide a buffer against development. 


Tuesday April 24, 2018 3:25pm - 3:45pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall