Date of Award

2007

Degree Name

Physical Science

College

College of Science

Type of Degree

M.S.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Michael Little

Second Advisor

James Brumfield

Third Advisor

Ralph Oberly

Abstract

The Cheat minnow, Rhinichthys bowersi, has been designated a species of concern by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Mitochondrial DNA analysis (Gladwell 2002) supports the origin of R. bowersi from hybridization between cyprinids R. cataractae and Nocomis micropogon. Previous investigators have hypothesized a relationship between fish hybridization and environmental disturbance. The habitat of R. bowersi has experienced severe environmental degradation from mineral and timber extraction. In this study, environmental quality was compared between stream systems in which parental species of R. bowersi were found with and without resulting hybridization. Environmental quality indicators included biotic diversity and stream structure indices. Data from this analysis were expressed in a geospatial model and analyzed for significant differences. Results do not support the hypothesis that relates hybridization frequency of R. bowersi to environmental disturbance. An intermediate level of disturbance resulting in increased biodiversity is found in watersheds yielding the Cheat minnow.

Subject(s)

Fishes -- Hybridization -- West Virginia.

Rhinichthys West Virginia.

Watershed ecology -- West Virginia.

Environmental impact analysis -- West Virginia.