Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Madtom catfish, members of the genus Noturus, are common in the waters of the Southeastern US. A previous study observed that madtoms in the Green River, Kentucky, preferred to shelter within old mussel shells compared to under or next to rocks. A laboratory study on the Carolina Madtom (Noturus furiosus), found that they did not utilize mussel shells and preferred rocks as cover. I conducted a similar laboratory study to determine which cover options the Mountain Madtoms (Noturus eleutherus) prefer. Cover preference was determined by offering the madtoms shelter options (rocks or mussel shells) in 10-gallon aquaria. After the animal had acclimated to the tank for 24 hours the tank was inspected, and the animal’s shelter choice recorded. I found that Mountain Madtoms selected to use the mussel shells over the rocks. Based on these results I conducted a second experiment to see if shell orientation impacted selection. I found that Mountain Madtoms preferred shell orientations with dorsal coverage to those without. Freshwater mussels are one of the most endangered taxa and are currently declining throughout their range. If madtoms rely on mussel shells for cover, the loss of freshwater mussels may cause a decrease in madtom populations within Kentucky waterways, negatively impacting the overall ecosystem.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Philip Lienesch, Ph.D.


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Other Animal Sciences