The Disappearing Dace: Can Clinch Dace (Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori) Survive In Virginia?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 3:20 PM
Fulton (Statehouse Convention Center)
Shannon White , Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Donald J. Orth , Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Clinch dace (Chrosomus sp. cf. saylori) are a presently undescribed species that are listed as a Federal Species of Concern and on Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan as Tier II- Very High Conservation Need because of potential threats from habitat degradation, high population fragmentation, and a largely unknown distribution.  Sampling from 2011-2012 showed that Clinch dace are patchily distributed in only eight small tributaries to the Clinch River.  In addition, populations are small with, on average, less than six fish captured per stream.  Further analysis of reproductive and life history characteristics indicated that Clinch dace have a lower fecundity, maximum age, and proportion of males than other Chrosomus species.  From this, we conclude that Clinch dace populations in Virginia are at risk of extirpation and should receive further protect measures at the state and federal level.  Efforts should be made to conserve critical habitat, particularly during the April-July spawning season.  In addition, within and across stream translocation and captive breeding programs could promote population stabilization and future loss of subpopulations.  Future genetic analyses and stream occupancy studies will be needed to help determine the genetic structure of Clinch dace and identify temporal and spatial variability of populations.