Habitat Suitability of the Carolina Madtom, an Imperiled, Endemic Stream Fish

  • Midway S
  • Kwak T
  • Aday D
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Abstract

The Carolina madtom Noturus furiosus is an imperiled stream ictalurid that is endemic to the Tar and Neuse River basins in North Carolina. The Carolina madtom is listed as a threatened species by the state of North Carolina, and whereas recent distribution surveys have found that the Tar River basin population occupies a range similar to its historical range, the Neuse River basin population has shown recent significant decline. Quantification of habitat requirements and availability is critical for effective management and subsequent survival of the species. We investigated six reaches (three in each basin) to (1) quantify Carolina madtom microhabitat use, availability, and suitability; (2) compare suitable microhabitat availability between the two basins; and (3) examine use of an in stream artificial cover unit. Carolina madtoms were located and their habitat was quantified at four of the six survey reaches. They most frequently occupied shallow to moderate depths of swift moving water over a sand substrate and used cobble for cover. Univariate and principal components analyses both showed that Carolina madtom use of in stream habitat was selective (i.e., nonrandom). Inter basin comparisons suggested that suitable microhabitats were more prevalent in the impacted Neuse River basin than in the Tar River basin. We suggest that other physical or biotic effects may be responsible for the decline in the Neuse River basin population. We designed instream artificial cover units that were occupied by Carolina madtoms (25% of the time) and occasionally by other organisms. Carolina madtom abundance among all areas treated with the artificial cover unit was statistically higher than that in the control areas, demonstrating use of artificial cover when available. Microhabitat characteristics of occupied artificial cover units closely resembled those of natural instream microhabitat used by Carolina madtoms; these units present an option for conservation and restoration if increased management is deemed necessary. Results from our study provide habitat suitability criteria and artificial cover information that can inform management and conservation of the Carolina madtom. © Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2009.

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Midway, S. R., Kwak, T. J., & Aday, D. D. (2010). Habitat Suitability of the Carolina Madtom, an Imperiled, Endemic Stream Fish. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 139(2), 325–338. https://doi.org/10.1577/t08-238.1

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