Sedimentation Impacts on Resident Rainbow Trout in a High-gradient Southern Appalachian Stream

Changes in substrate and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) catch rates in Howard Creek, a southern Blue Ridge escarpment stream were evaluated before and during sedimentation resulting from construction of a pumped-storage hydroelectric project. As substrate quality declined from road and dam construction, both y-o-y and adult rainbow trout catch rates declined. The decline in y-o-y catch rates preceded the decline of adult catch rates. The substrate component best correlated (r= —0.96 and —0.88) with declining y-o-y and adult rainbow trout catch rates was the very fine sand fraction. Accumulation of fine sediments in Howard Creek impacted spawning success of rainbow trout and lack of recruitment resulted in declining adult rainbow trout catch rates.

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