We evaluated three-pass depletion sampling for both AC and pulsed-DC electrofishing for estimating the population size of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss in a representative low-conductivity (20-mu S/cm) southern Appalachian stream with limited habitat complexity. Trout capture efficiencies in such streams could be expected to exceed those observed in streams in which habitat is more complex; thus, depletion estimates could be much more accurate in the former. We also compared the results for two trout length-groups to investigate size-related differences. Measured capture efficiency was 0.88 +/- 0.04 (95% confidence interval) for trout greater than 100 mm (typically adults) and 0.65 +/- 0.09 for trout less than 100 mm (age 0). Population size was underestimated in each depletion sample. The errors for trout over 100 mm were generally small (mean, 12%; range, 3-23%), and the upper 95% confidence limits were usually within 10% of the true population size (N). Underestimates of N were larger for trout under 100 mm (mean, 32%; range, 5-60%), although the upper 95% confidence limits were within 20% of the N for half of the samples. The results of a laboratory study confirmed that trout over 100 mm were immobilized at significantly lower voltage gradients than were smaller trout in both electric fields. We conclude that three-pass depletion sampling is relatively accurate in typical southern Appalachian trout streams and that the underestimation errors for rainbow trout larger than 100 mm would be acceptable given basic inventory and monitoring goals.
- APPALACHIAN STREAM
- FISH SIZE
- CUTTHROAT TROUT
- ELECTROFISHING MARK-RECAPTURE