Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Summer fieldwork has begun, giving us a chance to find some of our aquatic neighbors.

We recently did a survey and tour of the stream that runs through Prairie Ridge Ecostation. We spotted a surprsing assortment of species for a small creek, including sunfishes, a small yellow bullhead, and rosyside dace as well as crayfish and stream salamanders.

One of the real highlights of this trip was seeing the mound builders of the piedmont, Nocomis leptocephalus, otherwise known as the bluehead chub. These little fishes will move thousands of pebbles into an area of a creek bed, creating giant (from the perspective of a minnow) mounds. These mounds are used as spawning sites not only for the bluehead chub, but also for up to 30 different species of minnows in certain streams. Not only do these chub nest create excellent spawning cites, but the act of moving pebbles creates silt free substrate in many degraded streams. In fact, bluehead chubs are so important that they are considered keystone species in stream habitats. It is great having them as neighbors!

Dialogue & Discussion