Movement Patterns of Translocated Adult Sicklefin Redhorse (Moxostoma sp.) in the Oconaluftee River, North Carolina: Implications for Species Restoration

Jessica Davis


The southeastern United States contains the most diverse freshwater fauna in North America, yet many of these species are imperiled. The Sicklefin Redhorse is currently an undescribed species of the genus Moxostoma, endemic to the Hiawassee and Little Tennessee river basins of western North Carolina and northern Georgia. They are listed as a priority wildlife species of North Carolina with a state status of “significantly rare”, and are expected to gain federal protection under the Endangered Species Act within the next year. Like many potamodromous fishes, the Sicklefin Redhorse population is at risk of fragmentation due to stream impediments, habitat degradation, and restriction of its natural home range. The objective of this study was to determine the suitability of the Oconaluftee River, which is historically within Sicklefin Redhorse’s home range, for future reintroductions by tracking movement patterns of translocated individuals. Ten native Sicklefin Redhorse were collected from the Tuckasegee River in Swain County, NC, surgically implanted with radio transmitters, and translocated into the Oconaluftee River. Fish were tracked individually using radio telemetry for six months. Movement patterns for newly translocated fish, as well as seasonal patterns for female Sicklefin Redhorse, were comparable to those found within their current range. Although some fish moved extensively, the sedentary patterns observed in females is indicative that the habitat provided in the Oconaluftee River may be suitable for the Sicklefin Redhorse. Continued observation throughout the spawning season will help in fully determining suitability of the Oconaluftee river for future management and restoration of this imperiled species to its native home range.

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