, Volume 186, Issue 3, pp 831–842 | Cite as

Fine-scale movement and habitat use of a prairie stream fish assemblage

  • Casey A. Pennock
  • C. Nathan Cathcart
  • Skyler C. Hedden
  • Robert E. Weber
  • Keith B. Gido
Community ecology – original research


Measuring an organism’s movement and habitat use is highly dependent on the spatial and temporal scale of the study, with most studies measuring distributions once a day or at less frequent intervals. Yet, to fully understand the rates of intra- and interspecific encounters among individuals, observations at finer spatial and temporal scales might be necessary. We used passive integrated transponder tags and antenna arrays to continuously monitor habitat use and vagility of three stream minnows; southern redbelly dace Chrosomus erythrogaster, central stoneroller Campostoma anomalum, and creek chub Semotilus atromaculatus, among and within pools of an intermittent stream. Most fish remained in the pool where they were caught and released, or returned after emigrating from the pool. Despite largely remaining within the release pool, distribution among four microhabitats differed significantly over six, 4-h time periods for all three species. Vagility, the summed distance moved among antennas, differed significantly among species. Individual vagility (m day−1) increased significantly with body length for stoneroller and chub, but not dace. Some individuals moved as much as 110 m day−1 within the pool, showcasing extensive movement at fine scales. Finally, we found no evidence that feeding activity changed as a result of differential habitat use over a 24-h period. Our findings indicate considerable variation in habitat use and movement occurs among species over a 24-h period. This suggests ecologists can broaden the interpretation of processes influencing community structure (e.g., resource partitioning, avoidance of predators) by quantifying species distributions across a range of spatial and temporal scales.


Intermittent streams Vagility PIT tags Minnows Fine scale 



We would like to thank G. Hopper, B. Frenette, L. Bruckerhoff, A. Earl, J. Grill, and T. Fanshier for assistance in the field. This manuscript was greatly improved by comments and discussions with J. Perkin, J. Wellemeyer, J. Whitney, J. Trexler, and two anonymous reviewers. This study was approved by the Kansas State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol #3676). The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and College of Arts and Sciences, Kansas State University provided financial support for this project.

Author contribution statement

CAP led writing the manuscript. REW, CNC, and KBG conceived and designed the first study. CAP and KBG conceived and designed the follow-up study. CAP, REW, CNC, SCH, and KBG conducted fieldwork. CAP, REW, and SCH analyzed the data. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resource Ecology and ManagementIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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