Relationships among number of fish species sampled, reach length surveyed, and sampling effort in south carolina coastal plain streams

Michael H Paller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations


To accurately estimate the number of species in stream fish assemblages, the reach length that is sampled must be increased until species number approaches an asymptote. Sampling effort affects the proportion of the assemblage that is sampled at any point along a stream and hence the reach length at which the asymptote is attained. 1 assessed the relationships among sampling effort, reach length sampled, and asymptotic species number in small (mean, 4.5 m low-flow wetted width), relatively species-rich (maximum, 30 species), first- to third-order southeastern coastal plain streams. With seven electrofishing passes, which sampled an estimated 60–90% of the fish at most of the 25 sample sites, reach lengths of 235–555 m (equivalent to 35–158 stream widths) were needed to collect all species; higher ratios of reach length to stream width were needed in smaller streams. With one electrofishing pass, which sampled an estimated 20% of the fish, reach lengths needed to be increased by factors of 3–4 to collect all species. Sporadically occurring species were largely responsible for the long reaches needed to represent all species. When species with relative abundances less than 1% and 3% were eliminated from the analyses, reach length requirements decreased by 39% and 63%, respectively. In terms of time and effort, it was more efficient to sample a large area with one pass than to sample a smaller area with many passes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-120
Number of pages11
JournalNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this