Selection of Thermal Refuges by Striped Bass in a Gulf of Mexico Coastal River

We located 22 potential striped bass (Morone saxatilis) thermal refuges created by groundwater inflows along the Flint River in southwestern Georgia. Line transect counts made by SCUBA divers June-October 1990 were used to develop striped bass abundance indices for 8 of the springs. Abundance differed among springs and was positively correlated with potassium concentration and distance upriver and negatively correlated with pH and dissolved oxygen concentration. Groundwater feeding the springs flows through conduits created by the dissolution of underlying limestone. Locations of these conduits, revealed by linear arrangements of surface depressions, can provide information for managers making decisions concerning conservation of habitats that serve as striped bass thermal refuges.

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