Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor(s)

Patrice Ludwig

Christine May

Daisha Merritt

Abstract

Populations of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, throughout Virginia mountain streams have seen a rapid decline due to warmer conditions, decreased oxygen levels, and changes in the main stem streambed (Hudy et al., 2008). Current solutions have stocked more tolerant adult brook trout in the main stem rivers, which is costly and must be repeated yearly (Lennon, 1967). Finding an environment conducive for stocking brook trout eggs rather than adults would be ideal because they would return to this viable location to spawn, making them a self-sustaining population which is less costly and easier to implement. Upwelling springs connected to the main stem are potentially more conducive than the main stem due to lower temperatures, higher oxygenation, and less chemical runoff (Meehan, 1991).

Brook trout eggs were reared in upwelling springs connected to the main stem of the South River in Waynesboro, Virginia in order to create an inexpensive self-sustained population. Percent survival, occurrence of deformities, conductivity, and temperature were measured at four experimental sites and compared to two control sites. One of the experimental sites, City Springs, was the most viable of the experimental springs as it had the highest survival and the lowest occurrence of deformities. Another experimental site, Baker Box, was the least viable as it had the lowest survival and conductivity and highest severity of deformities. Overall, all of the experimental sites proved to be favorable for the reintroduction of brook trout, with the exception of the Baker Box site. Future experiments should rear the eggs directly in the sediment to see if sediment size in the springs is more or less conducive than in the main stem.

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