Most of my summer here at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been spent doing fish population surveys using the 3-point depletion sampling method. As I have said previously, this sampling method works wonderfully on the 1st order streams in the park, as nets can be stretched across the entire stream at both upper and lower boundaries to ensure a closed population. this has been how I’ve spent nearly everyday this summer, and I couldn’t be happier.
This week, we began a new sampling procedure for use in larger streams where completely depleting an area is not feasible. This method is known as an IBI, or Index of Biotic Integrity. This method involves selecting key habitats in the stream or river and sampling small units by shocking fish downstream to drift into a stationary net. Due to sampling larger streams, this has yielded the greatest diversity of fishes so far! Just today, I participated in sampling Abrams Creek, the most diverse river in the entire park. Among many other species, we encountered 2 Federally endangered species: the smoky madtom (a small catfish) and the Citico darter (a colorful, perch-bodied fish)! I am excited to continue this, and look forward to seeing even more species new to me!