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Distribution of Fishes in the Red River of the North Basin on Multivariate Environmental Gradients

The Fishes of the Red River Basin


From 1892-1994, 84 fish species representing 20 families were reported by investigators from the Red River basin (Table 3). Of these, 77 are considered native to the basin; and seven are known introductions, including the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brown trout (Salmo trutta), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), white bass (Morone chrysops), common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and flathead chub (Platygobio gracilis). All but the cyprinids were introduced for sport-fishery purposes in the basin; and, while most populations of salmonids and muskellunge have been maintained by state and/or federal stocking programs, the white bass has apparently reproduced successfully in the basin following its introduction into Lake Ashtabula (Sheyenne River) in 1953.

The highest percentage of fishes from the Red River basin were from the family Cyprinidae, which was represented by 29 fish species (34%), while 10 species (12%), 9 species (11%), 8 species (10%), 6 species (7%), and 5 species (6%) were from the Percidae, Centrarchidae, Catostomidae, Ictaluridae, and Salmonidae, respectively. The families Petromyzontidae, Hiodontidae, and Esocidae were each represented by two species (2%), and 11 families were represented by only one species (Table 3).

Two fish species included in the list for the Red River basin (Table 3) are known only from historical records. The longnose gar (Lepistoseus osseus) was reported by Woolman (1896) from the Otter Tail River near Breckenridge. Only one specimen was collected, but local people reported it as abundant in the deep parts of the stream at that time. The specimen is on record at the BMNH. Another species, the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), has also not been collected in the basin in recent years. Strand (MDNR FISH, Bemidji, pers. comm. 1994) reported a single lake sturgeon caught during the 1950s in a walleye net in the Red Lakes. A 102-pound sturgeon was taken from Lake Lida (Pelican River) in 1920, and another weighing 176 pounds which was 7 ft 3 in long was taken from White Earth Lake (Wild Rice River) in 1926. This sturgeon is on display at Cedar Crest Resort, White Earth.

The longnose gar and the lake sturgeon, along with two species found in the deep, cool lakes of the eastern basin, the ciscoe (Coregonus artedii) and the whitefish (C. clupeaformis), are not included in any analyses of stream fish species which follow in this dissertation. The muskellunge was omitted because it has not been collected during stream surveys. Omitted entirely from the species list for the basin were the goldfish (Carassius auratus), reported from the Sheyenne River near Lisbon, and the golden orf (Leuciscus idus), reported from the Red and Buffalo Rivers. It is unlikely that either species reproduces naturally in the Red River basin.


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