Fish Community Assessment Program

Fish occupy the upper levels of the aquatic food web and are both directly and indirectly affected by chemical and physical changes in the environment. The Biological Assessment Branch employs a standard method for assessing streams' biological integrity by examining the structure and health of fish communities. Available data include: fish community raw data, fish community scores and ratings, and North Carolina fish distributions.

Since 1990 almost 960 sites across the state have been assessed by the Fish Community Assessment Program (see map). A majority of the sites are within the Piedmont; the fewest sites are from the Outer Coastal Plain where wadeable freshwater streams are less common. Most sites are located at bridge crossings or other public accesses. First order creeks and nonwadeable rivers, estuaries, and reservoirs are not monitored. The program compliments other NC DWR programs such as  Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assessments  and the Ambient Monitoring System.

Numerous requests are received from state and federal agencies, private consultants, and academic institutions regarding the general distribution of freshwater species in North Carolina or a list of species from a particular county, watershed, or at a specific road crossing.  Data which may be found in the MS Excelspreadsheet files listed below are: river basin, waterbody, station (road crossing), county, latitude and longitude (in decimal degrees), date of collection, NCDWR's collection number, scientific name, and number of specimens collected. Taxonomic data are also available online from the U.S. EPA's STORage and RETrieval (STORET) database.

All data were collected according to NCDWR standard collection methods (standard methods) and include fish surveys through Dec. 31, 2016. Scientific names, except for Moxostoma and Scartomyzon, follow Nelson, et. al (2004) and Warren, et al. (2000). Species distribution maps for the freshwater fishes of North Carolina as of 1991 may be found in Menhinick (1991). Contact Jeff Deberardinis at 919.743.8473 or for questions concerning the Fish Community Assessment Program.