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Keywords:

  • dams;
  • flow manipulation;
  • habitat modification;
  • habitat suitability;
  • minimum flow;
  • Moxostoma robustum ;
  • regulated rivers;
  • spawning habitat

Abstract

A critical component of a species reintroduction is assessment of contemporary habitat suitability. The robust redhorse, Moxostoma robustum (Cope), is an imperilled catostomid that occupies a restricted range in the south-eastern USA. A remnant population persists downstream of Blewett Falls Dam, the terminal dam in the Pee Dee River, North Carolina. Reintroduction upstream of Blewett Falls Dam may promote long-term survival of this population. Tillery Dam is the next hydroelectric facility upstream, which includes a 30 rkm lotic reach. Habitat suitability indices developed in the Pee Dee River were applied to model suitable habitat for proposed minimum flows downstream of Tillery Dam. Modelling results indicate that the Tillery reach provides suitable robust redhorse habitat, with spawning habitat more abundant than non-spawning habitat. Sensitivity analyses suggested that suitable water depth and substrate were limiting physical habitat variables. These results can inform decisions on flow regulation and guide planning for reintroduction of the robust redhorse and other species.