Observations of watersnake (Nerodia, Colubridae predation on Darters (Percidae)
We report observations of predation by watersnakes (Nerodia, colubridae) on darters (Percidae)and summarize other literature documenting this relationship. We observed two midland watersnakes, Nerodia sipedon pleuralis, preying on darters (Percidae) in the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River (Mobile Basin), Bankhead National Forest, Winston County, AL on 7 and 8 August 2002. We observed the snakes (about 250 and 500 mm total length) with their captured darters in separate, shallow (<0.6m ) runs. We identified the darters as an adult river darter, Percina shumardi, and an adult Tuskaloosa darter, Etheostoma douglasi, two of the most abundant benthic fishes in shallow flowing waters of the river. Compilation of our observations and the literature on Nerodia diet's revealed 12 species of darters (seven Etheostoma and five Percina) are documented prey of Nerodia. Our results suggest watersnake predation is a frequent, but relatively poorly known, source of mortality for darters.