Banded Darters In The Flint River
Five of us went out to the Flint River east of Huntsville, AL, on Saturday just as the rain started. But it was reasonably warm, with no lightning, so we worked in the rain for four hours and got soaking wet. The Flint has a beautiful riffle system at this point, about 30 meters wide. We measured three transects at four meter intervals along the shore, measuring depth and benthic current flow at one meter marks from shore to shore. And there was certainly a measureable current this time. On each of the three transects we made six seine hauls from shore to shore at equal intervals, using darter dancing to drive fish into the net. The amazing find was banded darters, Etheostoma zonale, as the most common darter in this riffle. It's amazing because neither of the "Fishes of Alabama" books reports bandeds as present in the Flint. We found that about 30 of the 74 darters we netted were bandeds, with black snubnoses the second most common. Bandeds like fast flowing water over cobble and boulders with aquatic vegetation and aquatic mosses, which describes the Flint site. So I guess we're reporting a range extension? It's not an uncommon species to the north of us so I'm perplexed that no one else has recorded their presence in the Flint.