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Our Projects > Fish Communities and Habitats of the York River Watershed

Completed in February of 2003, the York Rivers Association and Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (WNERR) conducted a scientific survey measuring the health of the York River ecosystems, using fish as indicators, data collection essential for wise stewardship of this precious but threatened community resource. "Fish Communities and Habitats of the York River Watershed" (PDF Format - 5,402 Kb - see below for higher-resolution file) was published in November 2006.

Project support: Greater Piscatuaqua Community Foundation ($20,000 Otto Fund), with additional support from the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Town of York. Study Coordinator work provided by the Maine Conservation Corps - AmeriCorps.
Participants: AmeriCorps; Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve; York Rivers Association; York Land Trust; local volunteers

Project Overview

Objective
Our objective in this study was to assess the vitality of the York River ecosystem through a survey of fisheries resources and their supporting habitats.

Goal
Our goal in this study was to assist the York Rivers Association and partners in their work as stewards of the York River and its watershed, by documenting the current and potential fish habitat value of this exemplary coastal ecosystem. Our study provides data that is essential for wise stewardship of this precious but threatened community resource.

Study Design
For this initial characterization of fish distribution of the entire York River ecosystem, we used an extensive sampling scheme, with many sampling sites distributed throughout the estuary and watershed. These sites were sampled only once or twice, during the appropriate season. We conducted a fyke net survey for evidence of fish migrations at four locations both day and night in late April and early May of 2001, and coordinated a volunteer visual survey to look for evidence of fish spawning runs at 15 locations during May and June. We used an electroshocker to sample fishes in 44 freshwater stream segments (each 200 ft in length) during June and July, and mapped instream and riparian habitat and flows in each segment. We sampled the tidal wetlands within the estuary with fyke nets at four sites both day and night during the month of August. Finally, in late August we sampled the main stem of the estuary at nine stations from the inlet up to the tidal marshes with a beam trawl, both day and night.

A final version of the study is available:

Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.

 

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