Re: NANFA-L-- Creek Chubs?

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Creek Chubs?
From: Todd D. Crail (tcrail-in-UTNet.UToledo.Edu)
Date: Sun Nov 28 2004 - 20:36:21 CST

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From: <>
>> But upstream movement is common to many minnows-in-spawning time.

I think this is true of most fish families, and may not only be tied to
spawning. I would doubt mudminnows and sticklebacks make much of a movement
throughout the watershed, but for the most part, I would say spawning
grounds, drought habitat and over-wintering grounds are all different
places, depending on the year and the food available. What's a pain is...
it's kinda hard to radio collar or even PIT tag a darter :)

My thesis work will focus on this "ephemeral stream" (aka Second Stage
ditches, or ditches which exhibit stream-like characteristics) data I've
been gathering over the last 2 years. My question concerns the plant
community of the riparian zone, and which plant community fosters the most
aquatic biodiversity in the Oak Openings Region I talk about (I don't think
it's trees in a lake plain prairie ;). I'll be mostly focused on stream
morphology and that sort of stuff... but I'll be looking-in-how animals use
these part-time waters, and use the biology to rate and compare the physical

What it seems I've found... it's a mixture of factors and resources that
bring different fishes in-in-different times (they have easy access to these
ditches from nearby mainstem streams), and the community composition changes
over the year.

Headwater, wetland and prairie species use it continually (mudminnows, grass
pickerel, creek chubs, white suckers, green sunfish, orangethroat & johnny
darters) but make local movements depending on rainfall and surface water.
Mudminnows and grass pickerel are most abundant (concentrated) in the fall
because habitat changes in their favor, the rest of the group I've mentioned
is most abundant in the spring (spawning), but will be present if water and
food are also present.

What's been really cool this fall, we've had a lot of water, while it was
fairly dry late in the summer. The isopod (asellis) and scud (amphipods)
populations explode during low water when predation is low, etc... and so
early this fall, there were decent populations of these prey items. It's
usually untapped until spring (and probably creates part of the attraction
for species to utilize this segment and tolerate some of the silt and
turbidity issues they face), in my 2 years of watching this system.

But, with the heavy rains in the last few weeks, we've added striped
shiners, largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, and monster sized stonerollers
to the list of fishes in one particular ditch (golden shiners were also
present which only have been found in the spring previously). This is cool,
because they haven't been seen in the spring during spawning time, when they
would have equal access to the food, but are, ahem, preoccupied :) We can
be fairly sure they went up there to feed, and I can only imagine they'll
make way back to the mainstem as metabolisms begin to slow.

What I really want to catch them-in-is utilizing it in the spring, and
having consistent water depths on into summer, but chart a drop in
populations of fishes as the food resources are burned up. It will be
interesting to see if the damage to the populations this fall has bearing on
spring populations of fishes as well. We're also hoping to watch the
community change with the removal of the Secor Road dam, which will provide
open connection all the way to Lake Erie. I have little doubt we'll begin
to see the historic runs of northern pike into these very ditches the Old
Timers talk about.

And my point and back to the little fishes... This ditch is about 4 miles
away (as the fish swims) from the mainstem through parabolic ditches I've
shown DO NOT host inhabitants in any type of concentration (they're highways

So I don't doubt or am suprised by a seven mile hike-in-all Moon, esp in
West Virginia where there would be "run" streams that were essentially short
lived streams. There's all sorts of allochthonous (out of system) food
items they can grab (terrestrial bugs falling into or getting caught by the
water during high water) and prey items that survive and flourish in less
water than the predator (like under wet rocks) or cohabitants in burrowing
species homes (crayfish holes, for example) , which would make it worth
their while to make the journey.

And having just returned from the Smoky Mountains which musta had the rain
dumped on them the last few weeks... and having tried to find which streams
were actually streams, and those that were just temporary streams, created
by anthropogenic "flash" waters...

It's a good long distance in the hills between what is, and what should have
never been...

But... in some of them... I found fish. More on all that later ;)

The Muddy Maumee Madness, Toledo, OH
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:54 CST