Freshwater Biology, 2004. Paper abstract bibtex
1. We used direct observation and mark-recapture techniques to quantify movements by mottled sculpins (Cottus bairdi) in a 1 km segment of Shope Fork in western North Carolina. Our objectives were to: (i) quantify the overall rate of sculpin movement, (ii) assess variation in movement among years, individuals, and sculpin size classes, (iii) relate movement to variation in stream flow and population size structure, and (iv) quantify relationships between movement and individual growth rates.2. Movements were very restricted: median and mean movement distances for all sculpin size classes over a 45 day period were 1.3 and 4.4 m respectively. Nevertheless, there was a high degree of intrapopulation and temporal variation in sculpin movement. Movement of juveniles increased with discharge and with the density of large adults. Movement by small and large adults was not influenced by stream flow, but large adults where more mobile when their own density was high. Finally, there were differences in the growth rates of mobile and sedentary sculpins. Mobile juveniles grew faster than sedentary individuals under conditions of low flow and high density of large adults, whereas adults exhibited the opposite pattern.3. Our results support the hypothesis that juvenile movement and growth is influenced by both intraspecific interactions with adults and stream flow. In contrast, adult movement appears to be influenced by competitive interactions among residents for suitable space. The relationship between movement and growth may provide a negative feedback mechanism regulating mottled sculpin populations in this system.