March of the sculpin: measuring and predicting short-term movement of banded sculpin Cottus carolinae Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Movement of fishes through space and time is critical for population regulation and community structuring, but the dispersal of many benthic stream fishes remains unstudied. We used passive integrated transponders to track the short-term dispersal of 51 banded sculpin Cottus carolinae throughout a 600m reach of Little Creek in central Tennessee during April and May. Our objectives were to assess the efficacy of recently developed dispersal models, evaluate temporal variability in movement and determine whether individuals switched between stationary and mobile movement behaviours. Observed movement distances did not differ from modelled leptokurtic dispersal kernels estimated using the fishmove package in the R Statistical Environment for 12 of 13 recapture occasions. Leptokurtic dispersal kernel parameters including the mobile component ( mob ) and shared stationary component (p) were temporally dynamic and differed from static median values reported for fishes in fishmove, while the more abundant stationary component ( stat ) showed agreement with fishmove. The recapture occasion during which model predictions were not validated was associated with a large flow pulse that stimulated increased movement at the population scale. At the individual scale, 28 of 51 fish switched between stationary and mobile dispersal behaviour and the frequency distribution of switches was leptokurtic. Collectively, our findings reveal an emergent property characterised by consistent upstream movement of banded sculpin despite variability in population-scale responses to flow and individual-scale switches in movement behaviour. This paradox represents the march of the sculpin, in which fish diffusively spread upstream at a constant rate despite multiscale variability in movement behaviours.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Wells, W. G., Johnson, T. C., Gebhard, A. E., Paine, R., Hix, L. A., Ferrell, H. N., Engle, A. N., & Perkin, J. S.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Wells, William G||Johnson, Thomas C||Gebhard, Amy E||Paine, Robert TR||Hix, Lucas A||Ferrell, Heather N||Engle, Andrea N||Perkin, Joshuah S

publication date

  • April 2017