Quantitative Fish Surveys of Mohawk River Tributaries

Science Center Objects

Background Fish communities of the mainstem Mohawk River and Barge Canal have been well-documented (Carlson, 2015; George et al., 2016) but comparatively less information is available regarding the current status of fish communities in tributaries to the Mohawk River. This information gap is problematic because long-term shifts in species distributions or abundances due to climate change, eutro...

Background

Fish communities of the mainstem Mohawk River and Barge Canal have been well-documented (Carlson, 2015; George et al., 2016) but comparatively less information is available regarding the current status of fish communities in tributaries to the Mohawk River. This information gap is problematic because long-term shifts in species distributions or abundances due to climate change, eutrophication, or other anthropogenic stressors may go unnoticed in the absence of baseline data. More importantly, an approaching invasive fish species, the Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus), is expected to colonize much of the Mohawk River and the lower portion of many major tributaries. Introductions of Round Goby have had profound impacts on fish communities in the Great Lakes region and other areas (Kornis et al., 2012). Round Goby have the potential to outcompete native benthic fish species, reduce the recruitment of desirable gamefish through egg predation, and increase biomagnification of contaminants to higher trophic levels (Corkum et al., 2004). This impending threat, therefore, has created an urgent need to quantify the distribution and abundance of fishes currently occupying Mohawk River tributaries so that the effects of Round Goby invasion can be assessed and understood. This information will also be useful for evaluating the effects of long-term stressors and changes in watershed management that may have unknown effects of fish communities.

Objective

Quantify fish communities in Mohawk River tributaries prior to Round Goby invasion to establish baseline dataset of native benthic fishes and entire communities likely to be affected

Approach

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Mohawk River Basin Program are collaborating to collect baseline information from 20 sites on tributaries to the Mohawk River prior to Round Goby invasion. At least 20 tributaries sites will be selected which have a high probability of Round Goby colonization. A quantitative three-pass electrofishing survey will be conducted on a 50-100m seine-blocked reach at each site. This information will be used to produce estimates of density and biomass for each species as well as entire fish communities. Multivariate statistics will also be utilized to assess fish community structure. Habitat data will also be collected during each electrofishing survey in order to determine which habitat features make streams most vulnerable to Round Goby invasion.

References

Carlson, D.M., 2015. Middle Mohawk River-Barge Canal fish survey and fishery, 1981-1985. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Watertown, NY, p. 27.

Corkum, L.D., Sapota, M.R., Skora, K.E., 2004. The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, a fish invader on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Biol. Invasions 6, 173-181.

George, S.D., Baldigo, B.P., Wells, S.M., 2016. Effects of Seasonal Drawdowns on Fish Assemblages in Sections of an Impounded River–Canal System in Upstate New York. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 145, 1348-1357.

Kornis, M., Mercado‐Silva, N., Vander Zanden, M., 2012. Twenty years of invasion: a review of round goby Neogobius melanostomus biology, spread and ecological implications. J. Fish Biol. 80, 235-285.

Project
Location by County

Hamilton County, NY, Herkimer County, NY, Oneida County, NY, Madison County, NY, Lewis County, NY, Montgomery County, NY, Fulton County, NY, Delaware County, NY, Schoharie County, NY, Greene County, NY, Albany County, NY, Schenectady County, NY, Saratoga County, NY