1. Conservation of the federally endangered Roanoke logperch (Percina rex, Jordan and Evermann) necessitates protection of habitat that is critical for all age classes. We examined habitat use patterns of individual logperch to determine: (1) if age classes of logperch in the Nottoway and Roanoke Rivers exhibit habitat selectivity, (2) if age classes differ in habitat use, and (3) if ontogenetic patterns of habitat use differ between the Roanoke and Nottoway river populations.
2. In the summers of 2000 and 2001, we observed 17 young-of-year (YOY) logperch [<4 cm total length (TL)], 13 subadult logperch (4–8 cm TL), and 49 adult logperch (>8 cm TL) in the upper Roanoke River, and 40 subadult and 39 adult logperch in the Nottoway River, Virginia.
3. All size classes of Roanoke logperch demonstrated habitat selectivity and logperch used a wide range of habitats in the Roanoke and Nottoway rivers during ontogeny. Habitat use by logperch varied among age classes and between rivers.
4. In the Roanoke River, adult and subadult logperch primarily preferred run and riffle habitat, often over gravel substrate. Subadults were found in lower water velocities and slightly more embedded microhabitats than adults. YOY logperch were found in shallow, stagnant backwaters and secondary channels. In the Nottoway River, both adult and subadult logperch were found over sand and gravel in deep, low-velocity pools and runs. Subadults were observed in slightly more silted, lower velocity habitat than adults. Shifts in habitat use were more distinct between age classes in the Roanoke River than the Nottoway River.
5. Successful conservation of this species will involve sound understanding of spatial variation in habitat use over logperch life history and preservation of the ecological processes that preserve required habitat mosaics.