Fish of Allegheny County
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Fishes of Small Tributaries to the Ohio River
in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Koryak Environmental and Health Consultants

The fish communities of fifty-three small urban/suburban streams with little or no available baseline fish data were sampled by backpack electrofishing in 2002 and 2003. All are tributaries of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. A total of 3,026 fish of 37 species, weighing 95.3 pounds, were collected at stations located near the mouths of these 53 urban/suburban streams (electrofishing effort-547 minutes).

Fish were present in 12 of 18 Ohio River tributaries. Of the 18 streams sampled within the Allegheny River drainage, only four did not support some fish. Fish were present in 15 of 17 of the Monongahela River tributaries. A total of 28 species of fish were collected in the tributaries of the Ohio River, 29 species in the Allegheny River tributaries, and 16 species in the tributaries of the Monongahela River.

Blacknose dace were the numerically dominant species collected in these small streams, and showed the widest distribution of any fish. Blacknose dace were present in 34 of the study streams, creek chub in 30, and white suckers in 16. Generally sensitive sculpin and darter species were present in 18 of the streams, and a Pennsylvania Endangered species (river shiner) was found in Bailey Run. Trout were captured in five streams, Little Sewickley Creek, Little Bull Creek, Bailey Run, Mingo Creek, and Pigeon Creek, and brown trout might be reproducing successfully in Little Sewickley Creek. Plum Creek and lower Lowrie Run had good smallmouth bass communities, and Pine Creek had sauger and smallmouth, largemouth, and rock bass sport fish communities.

Index of Biotic Integrity scores were developed for 47 streams. Nine of these local streams had good scores, 7 had fair scores, 8 had poor scores, and 23 had very poor scores. While this information clearly indicates that numerous small streams in Allegheny County are still experiencing severe environmental stresses, nonetheless, the results generally exceeded expectations.