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Restoration of Stream Habitat for Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in Mill Branch, Knox County, Kentucky
Michael A. Floyd, Sherry L. Harrel, Arthur C. Parola, Chandra Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D. Kevin Merrill

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 12, Special Issue 4 (2013):129–142

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129 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Restoration of Stream Habitat for Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in Mill Branch, Knox County, Kentucky Michael A. Floyd1,*, Sherry L. Harrel2, Arthur C. Parola3, Chandra Hansen3, J. Brent Harrel1, and D. Kevin Merrill4 Abstract - The US Fish and Wildlife Service has focused the majority of its Blackside Dace recovery efforts on preservation of extant populations, discovery of unknown populations, and delineation of unoccupied suitable habitats. A missing component of its recovery program has been a large-scale habitat improvement project for the species. Between 2006 and 2010, we evaluated the change in Blackside Dace abundance and distribution in response to a 739-m restoration project on Mill Branch, a second-order tributary of Stinking Creek in Knox County, KY. We expected Blackside Dace abundance to increase post-restoration and predicted the species would expand its distribution within Mill Branch to include downstream reaches. The improved habitat conditions were expected to lead to increased diversity and abundance of other fishes. Fish surveys produced a total of 14,580 individuals, representing 29 species. For the overall fish community, mean (± SD) species richness in restored reaches (reach 1a; 21 ± 1, and reach 2a; 11.3 ± 0.58) was significantly greater than mean species richness in unrestored reaches 1 (12.3 ± 3.1) and 2 (7.3 ± 1.53). Reach 2a also had significantly greater diversity (1.7 ± 0.17) and evenness (0.69 ± 0.07) than reach 2 (1.05 ± 0.19 and 0.53 ± 0.04, respectively). Catch per unit of effort (CPUE) did not differ significantly between restored and unrestored reaches. Blackside Dace abundance ranged from a low of 76 in February 2006 (pre-restoration) to a high of 566 in October 2009 (postrestoration). No significant increase in Blackside Dace CPUE or abundance was detected within restored reaches. Our expectations with regard to Blackside Dace abundance and CPUE were not met, but we contend that the species has benefited from the restoration. The species’ movement within Mill Branch is no longer restricted by a perched culvert at the Walker Road crossing, the reach downstream of Walker Road no longer has intermittent flow, and the entire 739-m project area is protected from significant habitat disturbance. Unfortunately, predatory centrarchids such as Redbreast Sunfish have increased post-restoration and may be limiting Blackside Dace recovery. Nonetheless, we expect the Blackside Dace population to increase within Mill Branch as the restoration matures and habitat conditions continue to stabilize and improve. Introduction The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has focused the majority of its Chrosomus cumberlandensis (Blackside Dace) recovery efforts on preservation of extant populations, discovery of unknown populations, and delineation of unoccupied suitable habitats (USFWS 1988). Specific strategies have included 1US Fish and Wildlife Service, KY Ecological Services Field Office, Frankfort, KY 40601. 2Department of Biology, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475. 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292. 4Rosman High School, 749 Pickens Hwy, Rosman, NC 28772. *Corresponding author - Mike_Floyd@fws.gov. Ecology and Conservation of the Threatened Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 12(Special Issue 4):129–142 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 130 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 (1) the use of existing legislation and regulations to protect the species and its habitats; (2) project coordination and consultation with other federal agencies or their state designees; (3) outreach efforts with local governments, conservation organizations, and private landowners; (4) monitoring surveys and searches for new populations; and (5) research studies on life history, genetics, ecology, habitat preferences, and specific threats. A missing component of the USFWS’s Blackside Dace recovery effort has been an attempt to complete a large-scale habitat improvement project for the species. Much of the Blackside Dace’s habitat within the upper Cumberland River basin has been degraded by human activities, resulting in streams with unstable substrates, sparse in-stream cover, and reduced canopy cover (O’Bara 1990, Starnes and Starnes 1981, USFWS 1988, Wood and Armitage 1997). The specific habitat requirements of the species are not yet fully understood; however, several characteristics are thought to be important based on field observations (O’Bara 1990, USFWS 1988) and recent predictive models (Black et al. 2013 [this issue]). Blackside Dace tend to prefer streams with summer temperatures below 21 ºC, conductivity values less than 240 μS/cm, and link magnitudes between 3 and 6. These streams generally have extensive in-stream cover (i.e., undercut banks and woody debris), stable substrates, and continuous riparian zones that provide bank protection and full canopy cover (> 70% ). In this study, we evaluated the change in Blackside Dace abundance and distribution in response to a 739-m stream habitat restoration (or reconfiguration) on Mill Branch, a second-order tributary of Stinking Creek in Knox County, KY. We expected Blackside Dace abundance to increase post-restoration and predicted the species would expand its distribution within Mill Branch to include downstream reaches. The improved habitat conditions were expected to lead to increased diversity and abundance of other fishes. The project location is notable because the Stinking Creek watershed is situated at the center of the Blackside Dace’s range and is considered to be one of the species’ last remaining strongholds (Laudermilk and Cicerello 1998, Strange and Burr 1995). A large-scale habitat improvement project had not been attempted for the species, so completion of such a project within the Stinking Creek watershed represented an important recovery opportunity for Blackside Dace and had the potential to serve as a template for future restoration efforts. Study Area Mill Branch (36°52'24"N, 83°43'54"W) is a second-order tributary to Stinking Creek in eastern Knox County, KY, approximately 14.0 km east of Barbourville (Fig. 1). The stream is roughly 3.5 km long and drains an area encompassing 4.8 km2. Elevations within the watershed range from about 300 m to 631 m above mean sea level. Despite the high relief of the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field physiographic region, the valley bottoms of much of the watershed are wide and have a moderate gradient. The underlying geology of the Mill Branch watershed is Pennsylvanian-age shale, siltstone, sandstone, and coal (Woods et al. 2002). 131 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 The dominant land use within the watershed is second- and third-growth forest (97%), but the valley bottom of the lower half of the watershed, which includes the study reach, is used for agriculture (pasture and hay production) and contains four residences (historical land use is described in Supplemental Appendix 1, available online at https://www.eaglehill.us/SENA online/suppl-files/s12- Sp4-1040e-Floyd-s1, and, for BioOne subscribers, at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1656/ S1040e.s1). Forests are deciduous and are dominated by Liriodendron tulipifera L. (Tulip Poplar), Quercus spp. (several oak species), Fagus grandifolia Ehrhart (American Beech), and Platanus occidentalis L. (American Sycamore). A decommissioned 0.83-km2 surface coal mine is situated along the southwest side of Mill Branch immediately upstream of the study reach (Fig. 1). In this area, a detention basin that collects acid mine drainage is separated from the Mill Branch channel by a levee approximately 4 m in width. During periods of low rainfall, conductivity increases in Mill Branch, suggesting that contaminants from the basin are leaching into the groundwater that supplies this reach of Mill Branch. Site description Within the study reach, the Mill Branch channel was divided into two morphologically distinct reaches when the Walker Road crossing was constructed (Fig. 1). Near the upstream end of this area, the valley bottom was forested, and a large debris jam had formed in the channel. At Walker Road, two 1.2-m-diameter corrugated metal culverts conveyed Mill Branch flow through the roadway embankment that crossed the valley (Fig. 2A). Prior to restoration, sand and silt Figure 1. Map of Mill Branch project area, Knox County, KY. M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 132 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 had accumulated in this backwatered reach between the upstream debris jam and the culverts, and the channel was multi-branched. The culverts were partially crushed, and the upstream end of each culvert was chronically blocked by debris and formed a barrier to fish passage. Because the culvert outlets were perched approximately 0.3 m above the downstream channel (Fig. 2A), they also created a significant barrier to fish migration from the downstream reach . Downstream of the Walker Road crossing, habitat conditions were especially poor (Fig. 2A–2C). This reach of Mill Branch had been relocated to the base of the west valley wall and was being maintained as a channelized ditch (Fig. 2B). Sections were periodically dredged, and all large woody debris had been removed. Although the hillside bordering the left descending stream bank was vegetated, canopy cover was sparse. The 2.2-ha pasture bordering the right descending stream bank was grazed by several horses and was completely devoid of woody vegetation (Fig. 2D). The channel bed substrate of this reach was predominantly medium gravel with small amounts of cobble from eroding hillside areas. Sparse in-stream and woody lower bank cover along with frequent erosive flows created a high-disturbance environment with little cover. All but the coarsest bed materials were mobilized several times per year. Bank erosion created some undercut Figure 2. Pre-restoration photographs (2006) of Mill Branch, Knox County, KY. (A) Perched culverts at Walker Road crossing, (B) Upstream view of channel about 300 m downstream of Walker Road, (C) Eroded bank and isolated pool downstream of Walker Road, (D) Horse pasture on right descending bank, downstream of Walker Road. 133 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 banks, but water levels were usually below rooting depth. Each summer and fall, low flow generally resulted in a dry channel (Fig. 2B) or isolated pools (Fig. 2C). Most silt and sand from eroding banks, upstream reaches, and adjacent pastures were stored within the channel, as the infrequency of flooding limited its storage on the valley bottom. Due to this lack of overbank storage and high rate of input of fine material, silt and sand coated the stream-bed between bottom-scouring events and composed the dominant substrate of most pools. Methods Stream restoration Project construction was completed in three phases, during which time the entire 739-m study reach of Mill Branch was relocated and reconstructed. Phase one involved construction of a new 556-m reach downstream of Walker Road (October 2007–January 2008), phase two involved replacement of the Walker Road culverts and reach construction extending 61 m upstream of Walker Road (June 2008), and phase three involved construction of the final 122 m of the upstream reach (October 2008–November 2008). A fenced, 15-m (50-ft) riparian buffer was established along the entire restoration reach. To complete these tasks and evaluate project success, the project area was visited on 30 separate occasions between October 2007 (onset of construction) and March 2010 (post-restoration phase). A detailed description of construction methods and design considerations can be found in Supplemental Appendix 1. Fish surveys Fishes were surveyed within a 1.9-km section of Mill Branch using a Smith- Root backpack electrofisher. Initially, Mill Branch was divided into three general sampling reaches (Fig. 1). Reach 1 extended from the mouth of Mill Branch 450 m upstream to Walker Road, reach 2 extended 820 m upstream of Walker Road to the third road culvert, and reach 3 extended 660 m upstream from the end of reach 2. All available habitats within each reach were searched in an upstream direction (single-pass effort). Captured fishes were identified in the field, enumerated, recorded, and released. Sampling time (seconds) and total length (TL; mm) of Blackside Dace were recorded for each survey reach during all sampling events. All surveys were completed outside of the Blackside Dace reproductive season. We completed baseline fish surveys of reaches 1, 2, and 3 in February 2006 and March 2007. In March 2008, we expanded our survey efforts to include the newly constructed channel below Walker Road (reach 1a). In March 2009, we surveyed reaches 1, 1a, 2, and 3, and we expanded our survey efforts to include the newly constructed channel upstream of Walker Road (reach 2a). Additional surveys were completed in November 2008 (reach 1a only), August 2009 (reaches 1a and 2a only), October 2009 (all reaches), and March 2010 (all reaches). Fish community structure for all sampling reaches and events was evaluated through calculations of species richness (Margalef 1968), diversity (Shannon- Wiener index; Hurlbert 1968), and evenness (Pielou 1966). Catch per unit of M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 134 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 effort (CPUE) was calculated for each sampling reach and event by dividing the number of individuals of all fish species by the sampling time (seconds). Additionally, CPUE for Blackside Dace only was calculated for each sampling reach and event by dividing the number of dace individuals by the sampling time (minutes). A Mann Whitney U test (SAS 2011) was used to detect differences in CPUE, species richness, diversity, and evenness between pre- and post-restoration sampling events for all three reaches (α = 0.05). A Mann Whitney U test was also used to compare differences in CPUE of Blackside Dace between pre- and post-restoration sampling events for all three reaches (α = 0.05). Recruitment, age structure, and abundance of Blackside Dace were examined by constructing TL-frequency histograms for each sampling event. Results Stream restoration A detailed analysis of the physical restoration will be presented in a separate publication, but herein we provide some general observations. Continuous flow was observed in the restored channel during all 30 site-visits, even during drier periods in late summer and fall. The new Walker Road culvert posed no observable barriers to fish passage during low-flow and base-flow periods (Fig. 3A). No evidence of channel incision or lateral migration was observed in the restored channel. Figure 3. Post-restoration photographs of Mill Branch. (A) Upstream view of new culvert at Walker Road crossing (March 2008), (B) Upstream view of new channel downstream of Walker Road (September 2008), (C) Upstream view of new channel approximately 300 m downstream of Walker Road (September 2009), (D) Downstream view of riparian zone and fenced pasture (downstream of Walker Road, June 2012). 135 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Woody debris and root wads installed during project construction were still in place. Vegetative cover increased within the fenced riparian zone (Figs. 3B–3D). Fish surveys Fish surveys produced a total of 14,580 individuals, representing 29 species (Table 1). Nine species—Lampetra aepyptera (Least Brook Lamprey), Campostoma anomalum (Central Stoneroller), Blackside Dace, Chrosomus erythrogaster (Southern Redbelly Dace), Pimephales notatus (Bluntnose Minnow), Semotilus atromaculatus (Creek Chub), Lepomis auritus (Redbreast Sunfish), Etheostoma caeruleum (Rainbow Darter), and Etheostoma kennicotti (Stripetail Darter)—were observed in all reaches. Twenty-eight of 29 species were observed downstream of Walker Road (reaches 1 and 1a), and 8 species— Lythrurus fasciolaris (Scarlet Shiner), Notemigonus crysoleucas (Golden Shiner), Rhinichthys obtusus (Western Blacknose Dace), Hypentelium nigricans (Northern Hog Sucker), Ameiurus nebulosus (Brown Bullhead), Lepomis gulosus (Warmouth), Ambloplites rupestris (Rock Bass), and Ethostoma sagitta (Cumberland Arrow Darter)—were limited to these reaches. One species, Etheostoma blennioides (Greenside Darter), was observed only above Walker Road in reaches 2 and 2a. The most species (26) were observed in reach 1a, while the fewest species (9) were observed in reach 3. Creek Chub was the most abundant species, followed by Blackside Dace, Bluntnose Minnow, White Sucker, and Central Stoneroller. One notable community response was an observed increase in Redbreast Sunfish abundance downstream of Walker Road (reaches 1 and 1a). Prior to the restoration, Redbreast Sunfish abundance in reach 1 ranged from 14 (2006) to 42 (2007). After the restoration, we observed an increase in Redbreast Sunfish abundance in reach 1a, including the following totals: November 2008 = 95, August 2009 = 178, October 2009 = 125, and March 2010 = 156. Mean species richness in reaches 1a and 2a increased significantly compared to unrestored reaches (reaches 1 and 2, respectively; Table 2). Mean species richness increased from 12.3 (±3.1) at reach 1 (pre-restoration) to 21 (±1) at reach 1a after the restoration (z = -1.70, P = 0.04). Similarly, mean species richness increased from 7.3 (±1.53) at reach 2 (pre-restoration) to 11.3 (±0.58) at reach 2a after the restoration (z = -1.77, P = 0.04). Although not statistically significant (z = 1.52, P = 0.06), mean species richness at reach 3 increased from 2.3 (±1.5) before the restoration to 8 (±0) after the restoration. Mean diversity and evenness at reach 2a increased significantly compared to reach 2 (z = -1.75, P = 0.04 and z = -1.74, P = 0.04, respectively). Evenness did not differ significantly between pre- and post-restoration sampling events in reach 3. Mean CPUE for all fishes and for all reaches before and after the restoration did not differ significantly (Table 3). Only 76 Blackside Dace were collected throughout Mill Branch in February 2006 prior to the restoration (Table 4), and most of these individuals were adults ranging in size between 40 mm and 72 mm TL (Fig. 4). In March 2007, surveys produced a large number of recruited individuals, with 89% of the 525 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 136 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Table 1. Summary of fishes collected in Mill Branch, Knox County , KY 2006−2010. Sampling Reach Species Common Name 1 1a 2 2a 3 Abundance Lampetra aepyptera (Abbott) Least Brook Lamprey X X X X X 124 Campostoma anomalum (Rafinesque) Central Stoneroller X X X X X 804 Chrosomus cumberlandensis (Starnes & Starnes) Blackside Dace X X X X X 2366 Chrosomus erythrogaster Rafinesque Southern Redbelly Dace X X X X X 147 Cyprinella spiloptera (Cope) Spotfin Shiner X X X X 163 Luxilus chrysocephalus Rafinesque Striped Shiner X X X X 338 Lythrurus fasciolaris (Gilbert) Scarlet Shiner X X 4 Notemigonus crysoleucas (Mitchill) Golden Shiner X 19 Notropis buccatus (Cope) Silverjaw Minnow X X X 151 Notropis rubellus (Agassiz) Rosyface Shiner X 16 Pimephales notatus (Rafinesque) Bluntnose Minnow X X X X X 1763 Semotilus atromaculatus (Mitchill) Creek Chub X X X X X 5757 Rhinichthys obtusus Agassiz Western Blacknose Dace X 3 Catostomus commersonii (Lacapede) White Sucker X X X X 912 Hypentelium nigricans (Lesueur) Northern Hog Sucker X X 6 Ameiurus natalis (Lesueur) Yellow Bullhead X 14 Ameiurus nebulosus (Lesueur) Brown Bullhead X 1 Lepomis auritus (L.) Redbreast Sunfish X X X X X 756 Lepomis cyanellus Rafinesque Green Sunfish X X X X 31 Lepomis gulosus (Cuvier) Warmouth X 19 Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque Bluegill X X X 140 Lepomis megalotis (Rafinesque) Longear Sunfish X X 38 Ambloplites rupestris (Rafinesque) Rock Bass X 15 Micropterus salmoides (Lacapede) Largemouth Bass X X 14 Micropterus punctulatus (Rafinesque) Spotted Bass X X 48 Etheostoma blennioides Rafinesque Greenside Darter X X 2 Etheostoma caeruleum Storer Rainbow Darter X X X X X 316 Etheostoma kennicotti (Putnam) Stripetail Darter X X X X X 612 Ethostoma sagitta (Jordan & Swain) Cumberland Arrow Darter X 1 Number of Species 19 26 16 17 9 14,580 137 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Table 2. Summary of fish community metrics for Mill Branch, Knox County, KY. Feb 06 Mar 07 Mar 08 Nov 08 Mar 09 Aug 09 Oct 09 Mar 10 CPUE Reach 1 0.04 0.21 0.02 - - - - - Reach 2 0.04 0.15 0.10 - 0.18 - 0.18 0.08 Reach 3 0.02 0.08 0.004 - 0.22 - 0.11 0.08 Reach 1a - - 0.03 0.20 0.11 - 0.19 0.12 Reach 2a - - - - 0.13 - 0.22 0.10 Richness Reach 1 13 15 9 - - - - 0 Reach 2 9 6 7 - 7 - 10 9 Reach 3 3 3 1 - 4 - 8 8 Reach 1a - - 11 13 14 20 22 21 Reach 2a - - - - 8 11 12 11 Diversity Reach 1 1.74 1.93 1.63 - - - - Reach 2 1.27 0.93 0.96 - 0.99 - 1.31 1.38 Reach 3 0.27 0.57 - - 0.46 - 0.57 0.92 Reach 1a - - 1.96 1.81 1.97 1.84 2.14 2.18 Reach 2a - - - - 1.47 1.86 1.67 1.52 Evenness Reach 1 0.68 0.71 0.74 - - - - - Reach 2 0.58 0.52 0.49 - 0.51 - 0.51 0.60 Reach 3 0.25 0.52 - - 0.33 - 0.28 0.44 Reach 1a - - 0.82 0.71 0.75 0.62 0.69 0.72 Reach 2a - - - - 0.71 0.78 0.67 0.63 Table 3. Mann Whitney U-test comparisons of fish metrics within sample reaches before and after restoration activities. Numbers in bold are significant at α = 0.05. BSD = Blackside Dace. CPUE Reach Stats # fish/sec # BSD/min Richness Diversity Evenness 1 Mean (SD) 0.09 (0.1) 0.30 (0.48) 12.3 (3.1) 1.77 (0.15) 0.71 (0.03) 1a Mean (SD) 0.16 (0.05) 0.06 (0.02) 21.0(1) 2.06 (0.18) 0.67 (0.05) z 0.29 0.1 -1.70 -1.31 0.44 P-value 0.39 0.5 0.04 0.09 0.33 2 Mean (SD) 0.09 (0.06) 2.39 (1.54) 7.3 (1.53) 1.05 (0.19) 0.53 (0.04) 2a Mean (SD) 0.18 (0.08) 2.79 (1.68) 11.3 (0.58) 1.7 (0.17) 0.69 (0.07) z 0.59 0.28 -1.77 -1.75 -1.74 P-value 0.28 0.39 0.04 0.04 0.04 3 Mean (SD) 0.035 (0.04) 0.80 (0.35) 2.3 (1.5) 0.42 (0.21) 0.38 (0.19) 3 Mean (SD) 0.1 (0.02) 0.35 (0.54) 8.0(0) 0.75 (0.25) 0.36 (0.12) z 1.18 0.87 1.52 0.82 0.10 P-value 0.11 0.19 0.06 0.20 0.50 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 138 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 individuals collected ranging from 24–49 mm TL. In subsequent years, when surveys were completed in all available reaches (reaches 1a, 2, 2a, and 3), Blackside Dace abundance ranged from a low of 256 in March 2010 to a high of 566 in October 2009 (Table 4). We observed a gradual increase in post-restoration Blackside Dace numbers downstream of Walker Road (reach 1a); however, these totals were lower than the maximum pre-restoration abundance observed in March 2007 (reach 1). Reach 2 had the highest observed Blackside Dace abundance throughout the study (Table 4). Differences in mean CPUE for Blackside Dace between restored and unrestored reaches were not significant (Table 3). Discussion The fish fauna of Mill Branch was similar to that of other second-order streams in the upper Cumberland River basin (Laudermilk and Cicerello 1998). As expected, the highest species richness was observed near the stream’s mouth, with upstream reaches (reach 3) supporting fewer species. Cumberland Arrow Darter, a Federal Candidate species, was not known from Mill Branch prior to this study, but a single individual was observed in reach 1 during the March 2007 sampling event. The single specimen’s origin is unknown, but it may have moved into the area from adjacent Stinking Creek tributaries (e.g., Moore Creek) where the species is known to occur. The increased abundance of Redbreast Sunfish in reach 1a is a concern because this species represents a non-native, potential predator of small fishes, including Blackside Dace (Davis 1972, Sandow et al. 1975). The increased Redbreast Sunfish abundance in reach 1a could limit Blackside Dace abundance. Our data suggest that the stream restoration is having a positive effect on the overall fish community. Compared to unrestored reaches, species richness was higher in both restored reaches (reaches 1a and 2a), and diversity and evenness improved upstream of Walker Road (reach 2a). Trends in CPUE of restored reaches also suggested improvement, but these results were not significant. Based on our observations of habitat conditions within the restored reaches, we speculate that the fish community has benefited from increases in flow duration, substrate stability, and available cover, as well as a continuous, unobstructed channel. Table 4. Summary of Blackside Dace abundance, Mill Branch, Knox County, KY. Feb 06 Mar 07 Mar 08 Nov 08 Mar 09 Aug 09 Oct 09 Mar 10 Reach 1 6 75 0 - - - - - Reach 2 63 386 406 - 316 - 322 119 Reach 3 7 64 0 - 44 - 75 55 Reach 1a - - 0 0 0 2 4 13 Reach 2a - - - - 43 132 165 69 Total 76 525 406 0 403 134 566 256 139 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Our length-frequency estimates for Blackside Dace indicated a life span of >3 years and revealed age class patterns similar to those reported by Starnes and Starnes (1981). In most years, we could distinguish three Blackside Dace age classes, with the highest recruitment between 2006 (76 individuals) and 2007 Figure 4. Size-frequency histograms for Blackside Dace in Mill Branch, 2006−2010. M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 140 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 (525 individuals, with 450 age-0 individuals). Blackside Dace total abundance (all reaches) declined sharply in 2010 with little evidence of recruitment. The actual cause of the decline is unknown, but we suspect it may be related to increased stream flow (elevated rainfall totals) during the 2009 reproductive season, which may have disrupted spawning behavior or swept away eggs and fry (NWS 2013). Because the decline in Blackside Dace abundance was observed across all sampling reaches, we do not suspect the decline was related to the restoration. Our initial assumption was that the improved habitat conditions and permanent flow within restored reaches would benefit the Blackside Dace population, resulting in increased abundance, especially within habitats downstream of Walker Road (reach 1a). However, we observed no significant change in the Blackside Dace population as a result of the restoration. Blackside Dace CPUE within reach 2a appeared to increase, but the change was not significant. Why did we not see a positive response by the Blackside Dace population? Our evaluation of the restoration suggests that (1) inputs of fine sediment from upstream reaches may be limiting spawning and foraging sites within the restored channel, (2) increased abundance of the predatory, non-native Redbreast Sunfish in reaches 1a and 2a may be contributing to reduced dace abundance, (3) food availability (periphyton, macroinvertebrates) may be inadequate within the restored channel, and (4) insufficient time has passed for the restoration to mature and stabilize. Measurable improvements (greater abundance, higher CPUE) in the Blackside Dace population have not been observed to date, but we contend that the restoration effort has created more favorable habitat conditions for the species. Most notably, Blackside Dace movement within Mill Branch is no longer restricted by a perched culvert at the Walker Road crossing, the reach downstream of Walker Road no longer has intermittent flow, and the entire 739-m project area is protected from significant habitat disturbance. Under current conditions, individuals can freely pass between upstream and downstream reaches, and individuals that move downstream of Walker Road will no longer be trapped in a reach that typically dries each year. As the restoration matures and habitat conditions continue to stabilize and improve, we expect the Blackside Dace population to increase within Mill Branch and we will conduct annual surveys to track its response. Acknowledgments This project was made possible through the cooperation and assistance of four Mill Branch landowners. Field assistance was provided by Carrie Allison, Mike Armstrong, Seth Bishop, Dirk Bradley, Stephanie Brandt, Sue Bruenderman, Sunni Carr, Mike Compton, Ryan Evans, Jason Fisher, Mason Howell, Gabriel Jenkins, Mindi Lawson, Clayton Mastin, Ben Mater, Aric Payne, Joe Settles, Doug Stephens, Jacob Stewart, David Thaemert, Matt Thomas, Tony Velasco, Bill Vesely, and John Williams. Greg Abernathy and Shauna Dunham (Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission) kindly prepared Fig. 1. Brian Jones, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service 141 M.A. Floyd, S.L. Harrel, A.C. Parola, C. Hansen, J. Brent Harrel, and D.K. Merrill 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 (NRCS) and Brian Hacker (Knox County Conservation District) assisted in landowner participation, project development, and project coordination. The Knox County Fiscal Court provided fill material during placement of the new culvert at Walker Road. Construction was directed by Eric Dawalt, currently of Ridgewater, LLC, and Jonathan Charles, of Bluegrass Streams, LLC. Project funding was provided by NRCS (through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program), the USFWS’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (through the Landowner Incentive Program), Cumberland Valley RC&D (a Service Private Stewardship Grant), and the Kentucky Division of Conservation (State Cost Share Program). Mr. Virgil Lee Andrews, Jr. (Field Supervisor, Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office) provided valuable project oversight and financial support in the form of equipment, and travel expenses. The Kentucky Aquatic Resource Fund provided financial support for publication costs. Disclaimer The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Literature Cited Black, T.R., B.K. Jones, and H.T. Mattingly. 2013. 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