RE: NANFA--Blackbanded darters (was Collecting in AL)

Bruce Stallsmith (
Tue, 15 May 2001 13:06:52 -0400

I think both Jay and Jan are on to something about oversimplifying the
relationship between blackbanded darters and turbidity. Blackbandeds don't
seem to be a highland stream species, certainly where we found one in
Colochee Creek, GA, was below the fall line. I don't know if Jay's South
Carolina site was also below the fall line. This all goes back to the talk I
heard about the Cahaba River near Birmingham, AL. The Cahaba is certainly
suffering from watershed abuses so that the river is carrying more sediment.
Prof. Marion of the Univ. of Alabama in Birmingham and his research group
associate finding more blackbanded darters with increasing turbidity of the
river. The river starts out as a highland stream in St. Clair County to the
NE of Birmingham, and approaches the fall line to the south of Birmingham.
This latter area is where they were finding increased blackbandeds,
according to their data, and is also the area suffering the most from
increasing sedimentation. The UAB group also found increased biomass of
centrarchids in this stretch of the river over 15 years. I don't have their
data in front of me, but they have published much of it in the journal
_Freshwater Ecology_. I admit I'm not convinced one way or the other at the
moment about the preferences of blackbandeds. This group has also tried to
use the presence/absence of sculpins as a measure of water quality, i.e.
sculpins are associated with cooler, clearer water. But they don't seem to
have found as strong an association as with the darters, or at least don't
hype it as much. Hmmm... the jury is still out.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL

>>I have also seen and heard the blackbanded darter described this way
>>as turbidity tolerant) but am not convinced.
>>In 1995-1996, we studied fish-habitat relationships in small streams near
>>Augusta, Georgia. Abundance of blackbanded darter there was negatively
>>correlated with turbidity - the clearer the water, the more blackbanded
>I wonder if people making the association between turbibity/pollution and
>blackbanded darter numbers aren't actually making the connection between
>slower deeper water and the tendency of such water to appear more
>turbid. In 1990, I collected data on fish-habitat relationships in a
>stream in South Carolina. There were two darter species in the stream,
>blackbanded darters and turquoise darters, Etheostoma inscriptum. I was
>looking at the turquoise darters, so I didn't work up the data on the
>blackbanded darters. I found blackbanded darters in the lower reaches,
>where the water was a bit more sluggish and deeper.
>Jay DeLong
>Olympia, WA

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