Comparison of Underwater Video with Electrofishing and Dive Counts for Stream Fish Abundance Estimation


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Advances in video technology enable new strategies for stream fish research. We compared juvenile (age-0) and adult (age-1 and older) Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis abundance estimates from underwater video with those from backpack electrofishing and dive count methods across a series of stream pools in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (n = 41). Video methods estimated greater mean abundance of adult trout than did one-pass electrofishing, but video estimates of adult abundance were not different than estimates from three-pass electrofishing or dive count methods. In contrast, videos underestimated the abundance of juvenile trout; we suggest that this is because predator avoidance behaviors by juvenile trout limit their use of microhabitat locations visible to cameras. Integrated abundance estimates from two cameras increased correspondence to comparison methods relative to estimates from single cameras, demonstrating the importance of an expanded field of view for video sampling in streams. Geomorphic features helped to explain methodwise differences: more adult Brook Trout were estimated with video than with three-pass electrofishing as riffle crest depth and boulder composition increased, indicating habitat associations with trout escapement from electrofishing. Our results demonstrated that video techniques can provide a robust alternative or supplement to traditional methods for estimating adult trout abundance in stream pools.