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New Occurrence Records of Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in the Big South Fork Cumberland River Drainage
Rick D. Bivens, Bart D. Carter, Carl E. Williams, Edwin M. Scott, Jr., Douglas E. Stephens, Victoria R. Bishop, and Hayden T. Mattingly

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 12, Special Issue 4 (2013):171–175

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171 R.D. Bivens, et. al. 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 New Occurrence Records of Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in the Big South Fork Cumberland River Drainage Rick D. Bivens1, Bart D. Carter1, Carl E. Williams1, Edwin M. Scott, Jr.2, Douglas E. Stephens3, Victoria R. Bishop4, and Hayden T. Mattingly5,* Abstract - We report new occurrence records of Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, from the Big South Fork (BSF) Cumberland River drainage in Kentucky and Tennessee. The species was not previously known to occur in the BSF basin. Our new records are from 4 streams in McCreary County, KY, and 4 streams in Scott County, TN. These records represent a downstream extension of the species’ known range in the Cumberland River system, as well as a geographic range expansion to the west and south. Introduction Chrosomus cumberlandensis (Starnes and Starnes) (Blackside Dace) is a federally protected fish species historically known from tributary streams in the upper Cumberland River system in southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee (Fig. 1; Black et al. 2013 [this issue]; Burr and Warren 1986; Eisenhour and Strange 1998; Etnier and Starnes 2001; Laudermilk and Cicerello 1998, O’Bara 1990; Starnes and Starnes 1978, 1981; USFWS 1988). However, Skelton (2013 [this issue]) recently found Blackside Dace in tributaries of the Powell and Clinch rivers in Virginia, thus expanding its known distribution in a southeastern direction to new watersheds and a new state (Fig. 1). Our objective here is to report new distributional records for Blackside Dace in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River (hereafter BSF) drainage in Kentucky and Tennessee. Prior to 1999, the furthest downstream occurrences of Blackside Dace in the Cumberland River system were from the Beaver Creek watershed, and no records from the BSF drainage were known. Methods Site selection and sampling methodology We did not systematically or exhaustively survey streams within the BSF drainage to determine Blackside Dace presence or absence. Rather, our surveys were opportunistic when conducting sampling for other purposes, and therefore only a portion of the wider BSF drainage has been sampled 1Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 3030 Wildlife Way, Morristown, TN 37814. 2117 Evergreen Drive, Knoxville, TN 37918. 3PO Box 243, Whitley City, KY 42653. 4USDA Forest Service, Daniel Boone National Forest, 1700 Bypass Road, Winchester, KY 40391. 5Department of Biology, Box 5063, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN 38505. *Corresponding author - Ecology and Conservation of the Threatened Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 12(Special Issue 4):171–175 R.D. Bivens, et. al. 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 172 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 specifically to determine Blackside Dace presence. All of our sampling efforts used backpack electrofishing, but each of the following surveys involved different sampling protocols. In 1999, we surveyed White Oak Creek as part of the Bureau of Land Management’s Abandoned Mine Lands program. In 2002, we sampled 10 streams on or near Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area (Carter et al. 2003). Most were small, second-order streams that were surveyed for catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) samples except for 2 larger streams, Straight Fork and Montgomery Fork, which were surveyed with the index of biotic integrity (IBI) protocol (Karr et al. 1986) modified for the Cumberland River system. In 2004, we targeted tributary streams in the same watershed as White Oak Creek specifically to determine whether they also harbored Blackside Dace. Finally, in 2006, we sampled Wolf Creek, also near White Oak Creek, as part of surveys in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area sponsored by the National Park Service. Figure 1. Known distribution of Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. The known range of Blackside Dace before 1999 (historic range; dark gray) includes 8 counties in Kentucky and 3 counties in Tennessee. The Big South Fork Cumberland River drainage (BSF; light gray) contains new Blackside Dace records from the present study in McCreary and Scott counties (black-filled areas A and B). New Blackside Dace records from Virginia (black-filled areas C and D) are detailed by Skelton (2013 [this issue]). 173 R.D. Bivens, et. al. 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Results and Discussion New Blackside Dace populations in Kentucky Blackside Dace were first observed in the BSF drainage in June 1999 in White Oak Creek, McCreary County (Table 1, Fig. 1). White Oak Creek is a tributary of Rock Creek in the BSF drainage. We revisited White Oak Creek in July 2005 and captured ≥40 individuals. New populations of Blackside Dace were discovered in 2004 in Dolen Branch and Watts Branch, 2 additional tributary streams in the Rock Creek watershed. We revisited these 2 streams in July 2005 and captured ≥10 individuals in Dolen Branch and ≥11 individuals in Watts Branch. In May 2006, we captured 9 juvenile Blackside Dace in Wolf Creek, prompting a second survey further upstream which yielded 25 more individuals, including adult males in spawning coloration. New Blackside Dace populations in Tennessee We found Blackside Dace in four Scott County streams—upper Straight Fork, Jake Branch, Cross Branch, and a Straight Fork unnamed tributary, representing previously undocumented populations (Table 1, Fig. 1). These populations are in the New River watershed within the BSF drainage. We first encountered Blackside Dace in the Jake Branch tributary to Straight Fork in June 2002. A local resident showed us his minnow trap, which contained approximately 70 Blackside Dace that were apparently captured in Jake Branch. We subsequently collected 51 Blackside Dace during our electrofishing survey, yielding a CPUE of 403.5 dace/h for Jake Branch. We collected 52 Blackside Dace in Cross Branch and another 52 individuals in one site on upper Straight Fork, yielding CPUE values of 208.4 and 300 dace/h, respectively. We also collected a single Blackside Dace individual in an unnamed tributary of Straight Fork. It was apparent, based on size structure and CPUE values, that Blackside Dace are well established and reproducing in Jake Branch and the upper Straight Fork system. Origins of the new populations The new populations reported above could be native to the BSF drainage or they may represent introductions by humans. To begin investigating this Table 1. New occurrence records for Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in the Big South Fork basin of Kentucky and Tennessee. Authors who discovered each population are provided in the fourth column. Year = year population discovered. Stream County, State Year Discoverers Dolen Branch McCreary, KY 2004 Bishop, Stephens Watts Branch McCreary, KY 2004 Bishop, Stephens White Oak Creek McCreary, KY 1999 Bishop, Stephens Wolf Creek McCreary, KY 2006 Scott Cross Branch Scott, TN 2002 Bivens, Carter, Williams Jake Branch Scott, TN 2002 Bivens, Carter, Williams Straight Fork (upper portion) Scott, TN 2002 Bivens, Carter, Williams Unnamed tributary of Straight Fork Scott, TN 2002 Bivens, Carter, Williams R.D. Bivens, et. al. 2013 Southeastern Naturalist 174 Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 question, fin tissue samples were collected at selected streams to determine genetic relatedness to other Blackside Dace populations. We collected tissue samples from Dolen Branch, Watts Branch, and White Oak Creek in 2005, and from the Straight Fork population in 2007. Results of the genetic analyses are pending. The four populations in the Straight Fork watershed, in particular, may represent an introduction by anglers who frequently collect and use minnows for bait. This mechanism was also suggested as an explanation for the occurrence of Blackside Dace in the upper Tennessee River drainage in Virginia (Skelton 2013 [this issue]) and for Chrosomus oreas Cope (Mountain Redbelly Dace) in the same drainage (Starnes and Jenkins 1988). Conservation implications and future surveys The eight new populations reported here are noteworthy because they extend the distribution of Blackside Dace to a new drainage where the fish had not been previously documented. However, additional work is required to determine the status of the new populations. Quantitative surveys to document stream lengths occupied, and to estimate population sizes would be beneficial. Comparisons can then be made to populations in other parts of the species’ range (Black et al. 2013 [this issue]). Surveys of other suitable streams throughout the BSF drainage could yield additional discoveries of Blackside Dace populations, although we do not expect to find that the species is widely distributed in the drainage. The new Blackside Dace populations were found in the upper Cumberland River region, which is known for its historical and ongoing land disturbances. The White Oak Creek and Straight Fork populations occur in watersheds where water quality has been compromised due to mining activities. For example, water conductivity in July 2005 was 412 μS in White Oak Creek but only 138 μS in its receiving stream (Rock Creek) (H.T. Mattingly, unpubl. data). Measurements of pH have been as low as 4.5 in the upper Straight Fork, and even as low as 2.37 in some of its tributaries (Carter et al. 2003). Straight Fork in particular has been degraded to a condition that is inhospitable to most intolerant forms of fish and aquatic insects. Many of the tributary streams within the watershed contribute acidified water to the system, compounding other water quality issues. The occurrence of Blackside Dace in Straight Fork is of particular importance, not only as a new locality record, but also because of the existing and potential mining activities proposed within the watershed. Acknowledgments Field assistance was provided by T.R. Black, J. Hunt, R.M. Strange, J. Williams, and a number of other workers. We thank C.J. Sutherland and K. Snider for Figure 1. Completion of the manuscript was facilitated by a Tennessee Technological University Faculty Non-Instructional Assignment during 2011–2012. The manuscript was improved by comments from the guest editor and two anonymous reviewers. 175 R.D. Bivens, et. al. 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 12, Special Issue 4 Literature Cited Black, T.R., J.E. Detar, and H.T. Mattingly. 2013. Population densities of the threatened Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in Kentucky and Tennessee. Southeastern Naturalist 12(Special Issue 4):6–26. Burr, B.M., and M.L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A Distributional Atlas of Kentucky Fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Scientific and Technical Series Number 4, Frankfort, KY. 398 pp. Carter, B.D., C.E. Williams, R.D. Bivens, and J.W. Habera. 2003. Warmwater stream fisheries report. Region IV 2002. Fisheries Report 03-04. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Nashville, TN. Eisenhour, D.J., and R.M. Strange. 1998. Threatened fishes of the world: Phoxinus cumberlandensis Starnes & Starnes, 1978 (Cyprinidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 51:140. Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 2001. The Fishes of Tennessee, 2nd Printing. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 689 pp. Karr, J.R., K.D. Fausch, P.L. Angermeier, P.R. Yant, and I.J. Schlosser. 1986. Assessing biological integrity in running waters: A method and its rationale. Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication 5. Champaign, IL. 28 pp. Laudermilk, E.L, and R.R. Cicerello. 1998. Upper Cumberland River Drainage, Kentucky, Fish Collection Catalog (1982–1994). Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY. 469 pp. O’Bara, C.J. 1990. Distribution and ecology of the Blackside Dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis (Osteichthyes: Cyprinidae). Brimleyana 16:9–15. Skelton, C.E. 2013. Distribution of Blackside Dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis, in the upper Tennessee River drainage of Virginia. Southeastern Naturalist 12(Special Issue 4):176–180. Starnes, L.B., and W.C. Starnes. 1981. Biology of the Blackside Dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis. The American Midland Naturalist 106:360–372. Starnes, W.C., and R.E. Jenkins. 1988. A new cyprinid fish of the genus Phoxinus from the Tennessee River drainage with comments on relationships and biogeography. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 101:517–529. Starnes, W.C., and L.B. Starnes. 1978. A new cyprinid of the genus Phoxinus endemic to the Upper Cumberland River drainage. Copeia 1978:508–516. US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. Recovery plan for Blackside Dace (Phoxinus cumberlandensis). Atlanta, GA. 23 pp.