Habitat partitioning among eleven species of darters (Percidae: Etheostomatini) from the Allegheny River system was studied through underwater observation. Percina caprodes and Percina copelandi showed consistent segregation from Etheostoma by occupying deeper habitats. Substrate size, depth, and water velocity were important variables by which Etheostoma species segregated. Analysis of niche breadth values indicated that species differed widely in their degree of specialization in habitat use; based on the variables measured, Etheostoma zonale was a habitat generalist whereas Etheostoma camurum, Etheostoma tippecanoe, and Percina caprodes tended towards habitat specialization. Habitat segregation appears to be an important mechanism allowing the coexistence of these closely related and ecologically similar species. Microhabitat quantification on a fine scale was important in discovering habitat differences in this diverse system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science