Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 369–378 | Cite as

Basin-scale Patterns in the Drift of Embryonic and Larval Fishes and Lamprey Ammocoetes in two Coastal Rivers

  • Jason L. White
  • Bret C. Harvey


We studied the distribution and abundance of drifting embryonic and larval fishes and lampreys in the Smith and Van Duzen rivers of northern California, U.S.A. We collected seven fish species in four families and at least one lamprey species in the drift. All taxa drifted almost exclusively at night. Sculpins, Cottus aleuticus and C. asper, outnumbered all other taxa, comprising 63% of the catch in the Van Duzen River and 90% of the catch in the Smith River. We estimated that sculpin drift reached 3×107 individuals h−1 during the relatively high flow period from late winter through early summer. Most sculpin in these two rivers appeared to drift to the estuaries; we estimated 2.5×109 sculpin embryos and larvae reached the Smith River estuary in 1995. In contrast to the sculpins, the patterns in the drift of other taxa suggest limited transport to the estuaries. Suckers, Catostomus occidentalis in the Van Duzen River, C. rimiculus in the Smith River, threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, and lamprey, Lampetra tridentata and possibly L. richardsoni, drifted at much lower rates and later in the year than sculpins. In the Van Duzen River, drift appeared to serve as a dispersal mechanism for only one of three introduced cyprinids. California roach, Lavinia symmetricus, drifted at low rates throughout the summer while we captured only seven Sacramento pikeminnow, Ptychocheilus grandis, and no speckled dace, Rhynichthys osculus. The information gathered on the drift of early life history phases is germane to both the conservation of native fishes and management of non-indigenous species in coastal rivers.

early life history freshwater Cottus Lampetra Catostomus introduced species 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason L. White
    • 1
  • Bret C. Harvey
    • 2
  1. 1.ArcataU.S.A.
  2. 2.U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, dPacific Southwest Research Station, Redwood Sciences LaboratoryU.S.A

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