Land use and eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) populations in three Hiwassee River tributary watersheds

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Charles Rowan Lawson (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://www.wcu.edu/404.asp
Advisor
Joseph Pechmann

Abstract: The Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is a cryptic, long-lived, species in the family Cryptobranchidae. Declines in populations of many aquatic species, including C. a. alleganiensis may be related to changes in the streamside and watershed physical characteristics. This study examined the potential link between changes in substrate condition (fine sediment accumulation) and differences in C. a. alleganiensis length frequency, mass, tail circumference, and tail fin height within three tributaries to the Hiwassee River in North Carolina. Changes in these characteristics will indicate which habitats support the healthiest C. a. alleganiensis populations. I characterized the substrate within the three streams and sampled C. a. alleganiensis populations from the three streams. Snout-vent length frequencies were not significantly different among streams. Mean mass, mass:snout-vent length, and mass adjusted for snout-vent length in C. a. alleganiensis populations within Tusquitee Creek were larger when compared to Fires Creek, but not Brasstown Creek. The larger C. a. alleganiensis observed within Tusquitee Creek were thought to be the result of the compounding influences of stream reach position, sediment accumulation, point discharges, and other associated variables.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Language: English
Date: 2012
Keywords
Cryptobranchus, Hellbender
Subjects
Giant salamanders -- Effect of sediments on -- North Carolina -- Clay County
River sediments -- North Carolina -- Clay County