Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

J. Larry Wilson

Committee Members

Richard J. Strange, Jonathon E. Burr

Abstract

The Pigeon River watershed has been the focus of a ¬¬major recovery project to reintroduce fish and other aquatic species into the river where they were historically present. A paper mill at Pigeon River Kilometer/Mile (PRKM 102.1/PRM 63.2) began operations in 1908 and discharged effluents which had a detrimental impact on the aquatic wildlife. Recent modifications to the mill have significantly improved effluent quality such that most aquatic organisms are recolonizing the river. The present study is a baseline survey of crayfish species in the Pigeon River and its tributaries; it also includes a comparison of the mean Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) in four different reaches of the stream and documents diversity upstream and downstream of the paper mill. Crayfish are important to the aquatic ecosystem and food web because they serve as cutters that help to break down leaf litter and carrion and are also a food source for predators. Crayfish were collected using modified minnow traps and electroshocking and by snorkeling along ‘turning’ rocks; the method used was based on characteristics of the stream reach sampled, including water depth, flow, transparency, and type of substrate. A total of 1,320 crayfish specimens representing seven species was collected during the eight month study. Crayfish were found in nine Pigeon River tributaries , in the main stem of the Pigeon River upstream of the paper mill (PRKM 102.1/PRM 63.2), and below the Progress Energy Dam (PRKM 61.1/PRM 38.0). No crayfish were found downstream of the paper mill in the river itself; however, crayfish were found downstream from the Progress Energy Dam down to the Pigeon River’s confluence with the French Broad River.

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