Response of Juvenile Largemouth Bass to Habitat Enhancement Through Addition of Artificial Substrates

The availability of quality nursery habitats can be an important factor in the recuitment dynamics of littoral fish species. Eight artificial habitats composed of crushed rock substrate were established in littoral areas of an embayment of B. E. Jordan Lake, North Carolina, that historically exhibited low abundances of juvenile largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Response of juvenile largemouth bass to habitats was assessed by night shoreline electrofishing at treatment sites and associated controls on 4 occasions during the growing season in each of 3 years. Significantly more age-0 largemouth bass were collected on the artificial substrates than at control sites during 3 of 4 sampling periods. Densities of age-0 largemouth bass in shoreline areas where habitat was added increased over the course of the study relative to those recorded at long-term monitoring sites. These results demonstrate that juvenile largemouth bass will utilize artificial substrates, and that habitat enhancements of this type may be useful in systems where treatment of adequate amounts of shoreline is feasible.

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