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North Dakota Fisheries Investigations

Status of North Dakota's Fishes


Greg J. Power and Fred Ryckman
North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Abstract: For thousands of years, native fishes have played a prominent role in the lives of inhabitants in what was to become North Dakota, although there is little recorded history of species presence and abundance prior to the late 1800's. A 1994 review of all historical fish survey data resulted in a comprehensive fish species checklist and status determination. A total of 103 species and 21 families of fish have been documented in North Dakota waters, with 95 species currently present. Eighty-one of these species are considered native, with Cyprinidae and Catostomidae the most common families. Fourteen species are not considered native, and only one introduced species, common carp, has proven to be detrimental to other species. Of the 81 native species, the population status of nine species is of immediate concern. Human-induced habitat disturbances have greatly altered the fish species assemblages in the state. North Dakota is considered relatively species poor, and has fewer introduced species, compared to most other states.

Riverine habitats support far more species of fish in North Dakota than natural lakes and impoundments. All rare species of concern in North Dakota prefer riverine habitat. The 1994 review of species population status listed nine species for which their status was of immediate concern. Recreational fishing is important to the North Dakota economy with the majority of fishing focusing on native species. Loss and degradation of habitat continues to be the leading causes for species endangerment and impairment to recreational fishing.

Key words: fish surveys, species checklist, native fishes, introduced fishes, recreational fishing, habitat modification/loss

This resource is based on the following source:

Power, Greg J. and F. Ryckman.  1998.  Status of North Dakota's Fishes.  ND Game and Fish Dept., Div. Rpt. 27, 20 pp.

This resource should be cited as:

Power, Greg J. and F. Ryckman.  1998.  Status of North Dakota's Fishes.  ND Game and Fish Dept., Div. Rpt. 27.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. (Version 02APR98).

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