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FISH INVENTORIES OF MID-ATLANTIC AND
NORTHEAST COASTAL AND BARRIER NETWORK PARKS WITH VIRGINIA, MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA

Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2008/113

James B. Atkinson

Natural Resources Branch
Division of Natural and Cultural Resources
Shenandoah National Park
Luray, Virginia


March 2008


U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Northeast Region
Philadelphia, PA

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Executive Summary

During August and early September, 2002, fish species inventories were initiated in wadable aquatic habitats within the Mid-Atlantic Network (MIDN) parks which continued until 2004. The 2002 parks sampled were Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FRSP), Richmond National Battlefield (RICH), Petersburg National Battlefield (PETE), Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (APCO) and Booker T. Washington National Monument (BOWA). All of the 2002 fish inventory fieldwork was conducted with backpack electrofishing gear.

During the second year, 2003, of the MIDN fish inventory, several sites within each of FRSP, RICH, and PETE, were either resampled from among those initially sampled during 2002 or were sampled for the first time, expanding to include Valley Forge National Historical Park (VAFO), George Washington Birthplace National Monument (GEWA) and Thomas Stone National Historic Site (THST). The latter two parks are components of the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN). A variety of sampling methods were employed at Pope’s Creek in GEWA, including boat mounted electrofishing gear, trawls, seines, minnow traps and angling gear. The areas within FRSP, RICH, and PETE that were either resampled or newly sampled during 2003 resulted in the addition of new species within each park that were not encountered during 2002. As in 2002, species diversity appeared to be most influenced by the number streams or other aquatic areas present within each park, stream size and/or diversity of habitat types within/between streams.

During the third year, 2004, of the MIDN fish inventory, several sites within each of APCO, BOWA, and FRSP were resampled from among those initially sampled during 2002 and 2003 effectively completing the fish inventory in those three parks. Fish inventories in VAFO were also completed this year with the addition of a section of the Schuylkill River sampled by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Also this year, the inventory was expanded to include Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT) and Eisenhower National Historic Site (EISE). Additionally, GEWA, was sampled extensively during 2004 as a follow-up to the preliminary 2003 sampling effort. Multiple electrofishing techniques were employed for inventories in the MIDN parks during 2003 and 2004 including backpack, towed and boat mounted gear. Towed and boat mounted gear and personnel were provided courtesy of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the PFBC. Sampling within the expansive aquatic habitats of GEWA was accomplished to a large degree with a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). A variety of sampling methods were employed within GEWA including the use of fyke nets, trawls, seines, and angling gear.

The cumulative fish inventory effort from all streams and sites from all years include a total of 100 species from 44,076 individual fish captured. Cumulative fish species diversity within individual parks ranged from eight at THST to 41 at FRSP.

Significant Findings

• A high diversity and density of fish found in the red shale/sandstone/limestone streams within EISE. A total of 16,851 fish representing 31 species were captured at EISE in less than two days of electrofishing within two park streams.

• The bigeye jumprock (Scartomyzon ariommus), a globally rare Catostomid (sucker family) documented in Gills Creek at BOWA. Nearly one third of the fish community diversity within Gills Creek is comprised of Catostomids. A total of 10 species have been detected within the section that flows through or adjacent to BOWA.

• A population of mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi) encountered in the central Piedmont (Wilderness Run, FRSP). Within Virginia, these fish are more typical of coldwater streams in the Blue Ridge and Valley and Ridge physiographic provinces. Disjunct mottled sculpin population isolates within Virginia only occur within the Rappahannock and James drainages.

• A population of silverjaw minnows (Ericymba buccata) encountered in the upper Coastal Plain (Hazel Run, FRSP). This is the only known record of the species within the Rappahannock Drainage from the upper Coastal Plain. These fish more typically occur in the central to upper Piedmont regions of the drainage.

• The detection of introduced flathead catfish (Pylodictus olivaris) within the Schuylkill River section that flows through VAFO and the associated absence of a sunfish (Lepomis) population within the sample section. These fish have been gradually introduced into a number of Atlantic slope drainages from the Mississippi basin since the mid 1960s and have since become well established within some systems.

• A total of 34 fish species detected within GEWA over two years sampling. The expansive Pope’s Creek system is dominated by white perch (Morone americana).Of the various sampling techniques employed within the Pope’s Creek system including electrofishing, trawling, seining, minnow traps, eel pots, fyke nets and angling, fyke nets proved to be the most efficient technique followed by seine hauls and angling.

• A number of established fish populations throughout the MIDN parks are the result of introductions. These include members of the Centrarchid family (sunfish and bass) that have been widely dispersed throughout the continental United States as the result of state sponsored stocking programs, the flathead catfish, brown trout and fathead minnows encountered within VAFO, the greenside darter and fathead minnow population encountered at EISE and all carp records.

• While there are currently no listed endangered or threatened species within any aquatic system in any of the parks sampled, several species appear on the Virginia Natural Heritage Vertebrate Watch List. There is also current concern in regards to the status of American eel populations in the eastern United States.

Management Recommendations

The park lands included in this inventory are relatively small in area and do not generally contain or otherwise have control of the headwaters of aquatic systems present. However, the aquatic systems present within many of the parks contain significant fishery resources. Many if not most streams within these parks will be affected by activities associated with development, agriculture or other disturbances further upstream. Where feasible, park staff should encourage programs and projects that result in improved water quality in areas upstream from the parks.

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Body of report to Appendix C

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Appendix D, part 1

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Appendix D, part 2

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Appendix D, part 3

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Appendix D, part 4

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Appendix E, part 1

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Appendix E, part 2

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Appendix F, part 1

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Appendix F, part 2