Monday, June 15, 2009

Fish Fauna of McCoy Creek, Berrien County, Michigan

McCoy Creek is a small, second-order tributary of the St. Joseph River of southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana. It originates near the Indiana State line in Bertrand Township (T8S, R18W, Section 21) and enters the St. Joseph River in Buchanan Township (T7S, R18W, Section 25) just northeast of the city of Buchanan.

The series of range maps provided by Wesley and Duffy (1999a, 1999b, 1999c) illustrate the "known past and present distributions" of 107 species of fish within various segments and sub-units of the St. Joseph River and its tributaries. A review of these maps indicates the presence of the following eight species within McCoy Creek (numbers in parentheses are references to specific pages in Wesley and Duffy):
  • Catostomus commersoni, White Sucker (45)
  • Etheostoma caeruleus, Rainbow Darter (101)
  • Etheostoma nigrum, Johnny Darter (105)
  • Lepomis gulosus, Warmouth (92)
  • Rhinichthys atratulus, Blacknose Dace (40)
  • Salmo trutta, Brown Trout [Introduced] (77)
  • Semotilus atromaculatus, Creek Chub (42)
  • Umbra limi, Central Mudminnow (48)
  • From an ecological perspective, I find it interesting that McCoy Creek populations of four species (Blacknose Dace, Central Mudminnow, Creek Chub, and Warmouth) are geographically isolated from other populations that occur in the St. Joseph River drainage. This is perhaps not an unusual situation for these denizens of smaller, shallower tributary streams for which the main stem of the St. Joseph River does not provide suitable habitat conditions.

    All of these species are native to McCoy Creek and the larger St. Joseph River drainage except for the Brown Trout (Fuller 2009a), whose presence in the system is due solely to repeated intentional stockings of hatchery-reared fish by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the purpose of providing a cold-water sport fishery.

    It should also be noted that two additional species—Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)—were at one time temporary inhabitants of McCoy Creek, apparently the result of stocking efforts by the DNR, as attested to by their appearance in historical creel data (Wesley and Duffy 1999d). Both of these species are nonindigenous to the St. Joseph River drainage (Fuller 2009b, 2009c). By species, the ratio of 101 trout reported caught by anglers in McCoy Creek (based on 7 creel censuses spanning the 26-year period from 1930-1955) was 77 Brooks, 23 Rainbows, and 1 Brown.

    References:

    Fuller, Pam. 2009a. Salmo trutta [Brown Trout] Fact Sheet. In Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, Florida. URL:
    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=931

    Fuller, Pam. 2009b. Salvelinus fontinalis [Brook Trout] Fact Sheet. In Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, Florida. URL:
    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=939

    Fuller, Pam. 2009c. Oncorhynchus mykiss [Brown Trout] Fact Sheet. In Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, Florida. URL: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=910

    Wesley, Jay K., and Joan E. Duffy. 1999a. St. Joseph River Assessment. Appendix 1a (.pdf). Distribution maps of fish species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Fisheries Report 24: 1-42. URL:
    http://www.michigandnr.com/PUBLICATIONS/PDFS/ifr/ifrlibra/special/reports/sr24/sr24App1a.pdf

    Wesley, Jay K., and Joan E. Duffy. 1999b. St. Joseph River Assessment. Appendix 1b (.pdf). Distribution maps of fish species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Fisheries Report 24: 43-68. URL:
    http://www.michigandnr.com/PUBLICATIONS/PDFS/ifr/ifrlibra/special/reports/sr24/sr24App1b.pdf

    Wesley, Jay K., and Joan E. Duffy. 1999c. St. Joseph River Assessment. Appendix 1c (.pdf). Distribution maps of fish species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Fisheries Report 24: 69-111. URL:
    http://www.michigandnr.com/PUBLICATIONS/PDFS/ifr/ifrlibra/special/reports/sr24/sr24App1c.pdf

    Wesley, Jay K. and Joan E. Duffy. 1999d. St. Joseph River Assessment. Appendix 2 (.pdf). Miscellaneous historical creel data. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Fisheries Report 24: 117-129. URL:
    http://www.michigandnr.com/PUBLICATIONS/PDFS/ifr/ifrlibra/special/reports/sr24/sr24App2.pdf

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