Theses and Dissertations

Title: Assessment of the Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass Populations in the "Dead" River Section of the Coosa River, Alabama

Name: Stewig, Joseph Daniel

Degree: MS

Chair: Dennis R. DeVries


University: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Date: 2001

Pages: 110

Keywords: bass,hydro-electric plant,habitat modification,population dynamics


The 'Dead' River is a 32-km section of the Coosa River that was bypassed after the construction of a power generation facility on Weiss Lake in 1961. This area experiences daily flow reversals that can extend 24 km upstream of the powerhouse and can increase depth as much as 2 m. I collected largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) to characterize their population characteristics, habitat use, and diet in the 'Dead' River. Population characteristics included catch rates, annual mortality, and growth to determine whether flow reversals were affecting these populations. Both species were mostly associated with fallen tree and open water habitats over silt substrates. However, spotted bass used deep water habitats more often than did largemouth bass. Largemouth bass were more opportunistic whereas spotted bass were more selective in their feeding habits. Shad (Dorosoma spp.) were the most important diet item of both bass species. Growth of spotted bass in the 'Dead' River was faster than largemouth bass. Catch rates ranged from 0 to 46 largemouth bass per hour and 0 to 15 spotted bass per hour. Catch curve analysis estimated annual mortality to be 29% for both largemouth bass and spotted bass m the 'Dead' River. Relative to other Alabama populations, growth of largemouth bass in the 'Dead' River was slow while growth of spotted bass was fast. Fish species richness and diversity increased with distance from the flow reversal. Forty-six different fish species were collected in the 'Dead' River with similar species being found throughout the 'Dead' River, suggesting that the daily flow reversals may not have been the only factor affecting these differences, but rather the entire altered flow regime may have been important.

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