Distribution and Life History of Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori in the Upper Clinch River Watershed, Virginia

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Virginia Tech

In 1999, a new species of minnow, Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori (Clinch dace), was discovered in the Tennessee drainage of Virginia. Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori are listed as a Federal Species of Concern and on Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan as Tier II- Very High Conservation Need because of potential threats from habitat degradation, high population fragmentation, and a largely unknown distribution. Consequently, a management plan for C. sp. cf. saylori is of utmost importance, but more information regarding its distribution and life history is required before such a plan can be implemented. In 2011 and 2012 I sampled 60 headwater streams in the upper Clinch River watershed, Virginia.  From this and historical data, I conclude that C. sp. cf. saylori are restricted to eight small tributaries to the Clinch River.  Multivariate analysis of habitat correlates indicated that C. sp. cf. saylori populations are found in small, high elevation streams with gravel substrate and forested watersheds.  Three species distribution models were unable to predict C. sp. cf. saylori distribution.  Morphological traits were significantly different between C. sp. cf. saylori and other Chrosomus, thereby providing an initial indication of speciation and differing niche roles. I observed a nest association with Campostoma anomalum.  Gonad weight was lower for C. sp. cf. saylori than closely-related congeners. Together, this information indicates that C. sp. cf. saylori are narrowly distributed and populations are small, fragmented, and of questionable viability.  In the future, long-term monitoring efforts and genetics analyses should be completed and additional protection measures pursued.

Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori, species distribution, reproductive biology, life history