Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: North Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

North Carolina Project

Modeling suitable habitat for the robust redhorse in the Pee Dee River.

October 2010 - May 2012


Participating Agencies

  • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The robust redhorse, Moxostoma robustum, was rediscovered in 1980, 110 years after its description. This fish was first discovered by Edward Cope in the Yadkin/PeeDee River of North Carolina in 1869. However, this largest of the redhorse species was lost to science until it was recently rediscovered in Georgia. Historically, the fish was found in large Atlantic slope rivers from the Altamaha River in Georgia to the Pee Dee River in North and South Carolina. Habitat loss and spawning disruption by dams were identified by the Robust Redhorse Conservation Committee as a one of several threats to the robust redhorse. Robust redhorse historically occurred in the Pee Dee River between Tillery Dam and Blewett Falls Lake, but are presumed to be extirpated from that reach. Habitat analyses in the lotic reach upstream of Blewett Falls Lake, based on the newly developed habitat suitability criteria for the robust redhorse, would inform river managers on the feasibility of potential reintroduction of the species into that reach. Cooperative research is underway to accomplish the following objectives with the ultimate goal to improve our understanding of robust redhorse reproductive and habitat ecology and guide management to ensure the long-term survival and population enhancement of this imperiled species. 1. Quantitatively describe instream habitat availability under varying flow volumes in the unimpounded, lotic reach of the Pee Dee River upstream of Blewett Falls Lake. 2. Model the quantity of suitable robust redhorse habitat in that reach under varying flows, based on habitat suitability criteria for the species (spawning and non-spawning). This research will improve our understanding of a little-known and rare imperiled fish, that may require specific management activities, such as population reintroduction or augmentation in this and other regulated river systems.