Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Don Cipollini (Committee Member), James Runkle (Committee Member), Yvonne Vadeboncoeur (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Darters are small benthic-feeding fish. I examined reasons why some darter species are rarer than others based on geographic range, habitat specificity, and local population size using the Ohio EPA database and field research. The Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) represented habitat quality. I examined drainage area and gradient at the landscape-scale, riparian and channel characteristics at the reach-scale, and substrate, cover, and riffle/pool characteristics at the microhabitat scale. Some rare species occur in few rivers in Ohio, but throughout a basin, while other rare species occur only in moderate-sized rivers. Most rare species occur at only a few sites with low abundance. Common darters occurred in all-sized rivers and gradients. Rare darters occurred in large drainage areas with moderate gradients. Species richness was positively correlated with high QHEI, although the common johnny darter was abundant at sites with low QHEI. Mesohabitat and microhabitat were examined for each darter species within the species-rich Scioto River and Muskingum River basins. Rare species were more associated with high quality habitat than common species. Within Battelle-Darby Creek Metropark, a site with good habitat quality, species distributions differed. Overall, watershed size was the best predictor for a darter's distribution.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Biology Commons