On the Brink: Results from the extensive search for New York State’s last remaining wild population of Northern sunfish, Lepomis peltastes, in lower Tonawanda Creek near Amherst, New York

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Sanderson-Kilchenstein, David
From May-1 to November-2, 2013, a 3-mile section of lower Tonawanda Creek and the Erie Canal was sampled intensely in search of a small but ornate fish, the Northern Sunfish, Lepomis peltastes (formerly longear sunfish, Lepomis megalotis). Although common in the Midwest, the range of this species historically ended in Western New York and was detected in the aforementioned creek in 2005. A total of 21,353 fish were captured, representing 44 species from 15 days of sampling. Using a boat electroshocker (Smith-Root GPP 5.0 system; Vancouver, WA), 22 hours of power on-time were exerted to sample the fish communities in lower Tonawanda Creek (~95%), lower Ellicott Creek (~4%), Erie Canal (~0.6%), and Ransom Creek (~0.4%). With certainty, the fish community has changed in lower Tonawanda Creek since 2005; the most notable change being an estimated doubling of the relative numbers of green sunfish (L. cyanellus ). Although Northern sunfish were not detected, several sunfish hybrids, with one highly suspect Northern x green sunfish hybrid, were captured and further meristic and morphometric work will determine their parental makeup.