Although an unknown number of fish collections have been made in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) since its formation in 1934, no comprehensive summary of those collections existed until 1990, when Damien Simbeck completed his thesis at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (Simbeck, 1990). Simbeck compiled and summarized all known or available historical collection records as well as a series of UT Zoology Department collections made from 1988 to 1990, for a total of more than 220 collections. He then developed a complete list of fishes known from the Park, comparing historic with currently known occurrences and distributions, for a total of 79 species. This data was also used to develop hypotheses regarding drainage histories of the Park’s streams and to discuss past and future threats to the ichthyofauna. As Simbeck noted, documentation of past and current fish distributions is prerequisite to the detection of any changes through time due to anthropogenic or other factors.
Simbeck’s work did not discuss collection methodology, but virtually all the collections cited were doubtless made either with a seine or a backpack electroshocker, or combination of the two. These are longstanding collection tools of fisheries biologists, particularly in streams of the size and morphology of those in the Park. However, they have notable limitations, and, in the case of shockers, potentially heavy impacts on aquatic communities or more sensitive species (Henry et al. 2004). Direct visual surveys of fish populations and communities are far less intrusive, with a number of efficiency advantages, although not without limitations of their own.
Given the need for additional collections or surveys of fish communities in a number of the streams in GSMNP to fill geographic data gaps, as well as the desire to maximize sampling efficiency and minimize impacts, snorkel surveys were conducted in selected waters of the Park in 2002-2003. While far from comprehensive, the data presented here should be valuable as a baseline to compare with standard collection techniques and to serve as a guide for additional future snorkel survey efforts. Select data from the most recent two of seventeen years of rare fish restoration work in Abrams Creek are also included to provide information for that stream (see Rakes and Shute 2004 for a recent update on the project).
PI Name: Patrick L. Rakes
PI Organization: Conservation Fisheries Inc., Knoxville, TN
Co-PI Name: J.R. Shute
Co-PI Organization: Conservation Fisheries Inc., Knoxville, TN
Taxonomist Name: Patrick L. Rakes
Taxonomist Organization: Conservation Fisheries Inc., Knoxville, TN