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Distribution and Dispersal of Fishes
in the Red River Basin


From surveys made in streams in the Red River basin from 1892-1994, 84 fish species in 20 families were reported; 77 species are now considered native, and 7 are known introductions (Table 2 ). The introduced species are rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, muskellunge, white bass, common carp, and flathead chub. Of these, only the white bass and common carp have been able to maintain populations though natural reproduction; the only record of the flathead chub was reported from the Red River south of Grand Forks in 1984 (Renard et al. 1985) and it may have entered the Red River from Manitoba. The longnose gar has not been reported from the Red River basin since Woolman's (1896) account, and the last record of the lake sturgeon in the Red River basin in the United States was in the 1950s from Red Lake, Minnesota (Robert Strand, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, personal communication 1994).

The list provided by Crossman and McCallister (1986) did not include the following species we were able to document from the Red River basin in the United States: bowfin, northern hogsucker, largescale stoneroller, common carp, yellow bullhead, central mudminnow, largemouth bass, rainbow darter, rainbow trout, brown trout, logperch, bigmouth buffalo, brook trout, pugnose shiner, green sunfish, and the mottled sculpin. The following species were reported in the Red River basin in the United States by Crossman and McCallister (1986) for which we were unable to find any documentation that they have occurred in the basin: northern brook lamprey (Ichthyomyzon fossor), bullhead minnow (Pimephales vigilax), longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis); likewise, we found no documentation that two species listed with a question mark, the silvery minnow (Hybognathus nuchalis) and longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus), have occurred in the basin in the United States. Underhill's (1989) list of fishes in the Red River basin in the United States did not include the following species that we were able to document: yellow bullhead, muskellunge, orangespotted sunfish, and mottled sculpin.

Compared with other large streams in the region, diversity of fishes in the Red River basin is high, and most of its species are also found in streams of the Mississippi River drainage. The upper Mississippi River (above St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis) has 69 fish species (Underhill 1989) of which 62 species are shared with the Red River. The Minnesota River has 88 species of which 72 are shared. The Missouri River in North Dakota has 65 species (Ryckman 1981) of which 46 species are shared.

Several species are apparently restricted to specific habitats available in only some streams. Species typical of only eastern, clearwater tributaries of the Red River basin are: chestnut lamprey, silver lamprey, hornyhead chub, pugnose shiner, blackchin shiner, central mudminnow, and mottled sculpin. Species reported only from the Otter Tail and Pelican river drainages are: bowfin, northern hogsucker, central stoneroller, weed shiner, yellow bullhead, rainbow darter, and least darter. The largescale stoneroller has been reported only from the Forest River, and the orangespotted sunfish is most common in the Sheyenne River.

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