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

Other Regional Studies


Along with surveys of fish distribution that have occurred in the Red River basin, there have also been investigations of fishes in neighboring watersheds. These studies, along with an atlas of freshwater fishes by Lee et al. (1980), provide essential information regarding the distribution of fishes in the midwestern region of the United States.

Missouri River drainage

Jordan (1878) reported on a collection of fishes made in the Dakota Territory from 1873-1874 by E. Coues. Streams surveyed by Coues were primarily tributaries to the Missouri and Saskatchewan Rivers. However, there is one record of a catfish taken from the Red River near Pembina. Cope (1879) provided a list of fishes observed in the Missouri River and its tributaries. Lord (1884) reported on the fishes of Devils Lake, North Dakota. Meek (1895) explored several streams in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska; and Evermann and Cox (1896) investigated springs and creeks tributary to the Missouri River in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska to determine a location for one or more fish hatcheries. The latter report includes an extensive annotated list of Missouri River fishes.

Two comprehensive studies of fishes of the Missouri River were completed in the mid-1900s. Churchill and Over (1938) provided a comprehensive review of South Dakota fishes, and Simon (1946) reported on the fishes of Wyoming from surveys in the state which began in 1933. Many of the collections were made in tributaries of the Missouri River. The comprehensive publications Fishes of South Dakota (Churchill and Over 1938) and Wyoming Fishes (Simon 1946) were among the first of their kind from the midwestern region.

Several other studies regarding the distribution of Dakota and Iowa fishes also were published. Harlan and Speaker (1951) published Iowa Fish and Fishing, and Harrison and Speaker (1954) provided a list of fishes in the streams tributary to the Missouri River in Iowa. Personius and Eddy (1955) reported on the fishes of the Little Missouri River, where they determined the species composition and distribution of fishes during a survey in the summer of 1950, before the completion of the Garrison Dam and the formation of Lake Sakakawea. Starrett (1950) studied the distribution of the minnows and darters in Boone County, Iowa, during 1946-1947. Underhill (1959) reported on collections made at 59 sites on the Vermillion River, South Dakota, in 1955-1958. Several species found during the study had extremely restricted distributions, thought to be due to drainage of farmlands and associated siltation of the stream bed. Carufel (1958) published the Tentative Check List for Fishes of North Dakota. However, no information regarding the distribution of fishes in the state was provided.

Bailey and Allum (1962) published Fishes of South Dakota, a comprehensive review of the distribution of fishes based on 137 collection sites from across the state. An extensive annotated list as well as keys for the identification of species were provided. Reigh (1978) and Reigh and Owen (1979) surveyed the fishes of the western tributaries of the Missouri River in North Dakota. Elsen (1977), Loch et al. (1979), and Owen et al. (1981) reported on the fishes of the Missouri River and its tributaries in North and South Dakota before the proposed Garrison Diversion project. Owen et al. (1981) provided several species distribution maps and an extensive bibliography. In 1994, the NDGF in cooperation with the Dakota Chapter, American Fisheries Society, published an inventory of fish species and status classifications for North and South Dakota; and Neumann and Willis (1994) published the Guide to the Common Fishes of South Dakota, which includes a comprehensive listing of the fishes of that state.

Mississippi and Rainy River drainages

Early investigations of fishes of the Mississippi River and its middle and upper tributaries included that by Cox (1896), who reported on the fishes of southwestern Minnesota, and Cox (1897), who published A Preliminary Report on the Fishes of Minnesota. The latter report included keys for the identification of fishes and an annotated list of species and represents the first comprehensive treatment of fishes in Minnesota. Evermann and Latimer (1910) provided a species list and statistics regarding the fishery of the Lake of the Woods. However, several specimens were misidentified and had to be corrected some 30 years later (Hubbs 1945, Eddy et al. 1972). Surber (1920) provided an annotated list of species in the Preliminary Catalog of the Fishes and Fish-Like Vertebrates of Minnesota. Friedrich (1933) and Moyle (1939) reported on the fishes of the upper Mississippi River system. Eddy and Surber (1947) published Northern Fishes, which is an extensive review of Minnesota fishes.

Several papers were published during the mid-1900s by C. Hubbs and several coauthors regarding the distribution of fishes, including the fishes of Cass Lake, Minnesota (Hubbs and McLaren 1923), and the fishes of the Great Lakes and connecting waters (Hubbs 1926, Hubbs 1930). Hubbs and Lagler (1941) published the Guide to the Fishes of the Great Lakes and Tributary Waters, and Hubbs and Lagler (1947) published Fishes of the Great Lakes Region. Both are standard references for ichthyologists. Hubbs (1945) corrected several erroneous distribution records for Minnesota fishes.

A list of Lake of the Woods fishes was prepared by Carlander (1948). This list was associated with a survey of the commercial fishery on the lake (Carlander 1942). Also, Carlander (1941) summarized all the available data regarding the distribution of 13 darter species in Minnesota. Specimens were studied from the collection at the UMN.

In 1955, J. Underhill completed his dissertation on stream fish distribution in Minnesota, which included a study of the intra-specific variability of morphological features of three species (Underhill 1955). Underhill (1958) published Distribution of Minnesota Minnows and Darters, an extensive review of several species in relation to Pleistocene glaciation patterns. Revised distributional records for several Minnesota species were provided by Nordlie et al. (1961) and Phillips and Underhill (1967). Phillips and Underhill (1971) studied the distribution of the Catostomidae in Minnesota, and Eddy et al. (1972) provided a list of fishes from the Red and Rainy Rivers and the Lake of the Woods. Eddy and Underhill (1974) revised Northern Fishes, a standard reference for ichthyologists in Minnesota; and Phillips et al. (1982) produced another extensive summary, Fishes of the Minnesota Region.

Studies of Wisconsin fishes have included Greene (1935), who published Distribution of Wisconsin Fishes, Becker (1983), who published Wisconsin Fishes, and Fago (1992), who provided a technical report on the distribution of fishes in Wisconsin, mostly from collections made by personnel of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Nelson River drainage in Canada

Eigenmann (1895) surveyed the fishes of western Canada and the northwestern United States, including five sites in the Red River basin near Winnipeg. The banks and bed of the Red River were extremely muddy and full of stumps and snags making seining nearly impossible. Eigenmann (1895) writes that "in seining, where we did not sink into the mud without possibility to work, snags were sure to interfere." Several species listed by Eigenmann (1895) were caught by local fisherman. The "catfish" was found to be the most abundant species in the Red River.

Other early studies of Canadian waters included that by Thompson (1898), who provided a list of fishes occurring in Manitoba. Evermann and Goldsborough (1907) published a comprehensive list of the freshwater fishes of Canada, including an annotated species list. Bissett (1927) provided a list of fishes occurring in Manitoba, and Bajkov (1928) summarized several works to provide a comprehensive species list for the Hudson Bay drainage system. In The Fishes of Manitoba, Hinks (1943) provided helpful taxonomic keys and fish life-history information. Radforth (1944) reported on the distribution of fishes in Ontario, and Dymond (1947) provided a species key and annotated list of fishes in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.

Fishes collected in the region of Lake Winnipeg were reported by Keleher (1952); Keleher (1956) noted the northern limits of distribution for 13 Cyprinid species. Scott (1958) provided a comprehensive review of the species of freshwater fishes in Canadian provinces and in Alaska. Willock (1969) discussed the distribution of fishes in the Missouri River drainage in Canada, with comments on the possibility of a past connection between the Missouri and Saskatchewan rivers. Scott and Crossman (1973) published Freshwater Fishes of Canada, which has served as a standard reference. Mandrak and Crossman (1992a) provided a list of Ontario fishes with distribution maps for each species.


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