NANFA-- Shiner Observations in Borden Creek, AL

Bruce Stallsmith (
Sun, 23 May 2004 20:02:08 -0400

I was out chasing shiners in Borden Creek, AL, today and came to a
realization about the three species of shiner present in this creek. This is
relatively small creek with middlin' but not high fish diversity. The three
shiners present are burrhead (Notropis asperifrons), silverstripe (N.
stilbius) and blacktail (Cyprinella venustus). In previous trips we have
easily caught lots of silverstripes (we only want 20 per trip) but had
difficulty catching burrheads (also aiming for 20) and rarely saw blacktails
(not a target species for this study).

The water is lower today than last month, by about a foot, and we broke out
the 20-foot seine rather than the 6-foot seine. We found distinct zonation
between these three species: the blacktails, a large Cyprinella species,
were only found in deeper pools that we seined; some silverstripes would be
in these pools, but the silverstripes were concentrated in the remaining
riffles in low water, about mid-calf deep; and a few burrheads were found in
the riffles, but most were found in shallow flowing pools just above riffles
along with a few silverstripes and no blacktails.

It struck me as a nice, fairly simple example of the partitioning of
available environment between similar species so that they don't directly
compete with each other as much.

The various darters are now going out of breeding coloration. The
Tuskaloosas only have some turquoise blue on the underside, and the Warriors
have pronounced red dots down the side.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL, US of A
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