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The Fishes of the Upper Moreau River Basin

Todd M. Loomis, Charles R. Berry, Jr., and Jack Erickson


Abstract: Our survey of fishes was the first to quantify the fish community and habitat conditions in the upper Moreau River Basin. A total of 6299 fishes of 19 species was collected with seines and trap nets in 1995 to 1996 on the main river, whereas 21 species were found in a concomitant study on tributaries. Our data plus that from a 1979 study of the lower river yielded a total of 38 species of fishes in the Moreau River. Five species were found exclusively in the headwaters; twelve were found only in the confluence area near Lake Oahe. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and four centrarchids have been introduced. We added the following species to the ichthyofaunal list for the basin: emerald shiner (Notropis atherinoides), white bass (Morone chrysops), Iowa darter (Etheostoma exile), brassy minnow (Hybognathus hankinsoni), creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans). All species found in a cursory 1952 study have persisted over the past 44 years. Cyprinids made up about 78% of the total catch in the main river. The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) was the dominant game species. For the fishes of the main river, catch-per-unit-effort values for seining were highest (greater than 2 fish/m) for the sand shiner (Notropis stramineus); five species had values ranging from 0.1 to 1.0 fish/m, whereas values for 12 other species were usually less than 0.1 fish/m. Mean relative weight values by length category for channel catfish were 103 ± 1 (substock lengths), 81 ± 1 (stock to quality lengths), and 92 ± 3 (quality to preferred lengths); for river carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio) were 88 ± 2, (substock lengths), 84 ± 1 (stock to quality lengths), 78 ± 1 (quality to preferred lengths), and 80 ± 2 (preferred to memorable lengths); and for white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) were 78 ± 4 (substock lengths), 81 ± 3 (stock to quality lengths), 71 ± 2 (quality to preferred lengths), and 67 ± 2 (preferred to memorable lengths). River discharge (range 0.18 to 3.1 m³/s), other physical characteristics (width, depth, and gradient), and water quality characteristics (dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and total dissolved solids) were similar at the time the fish were collected both years. Our fish community data are the first available for the upper basin of the Moreau River and with our physical habitat data may allow future surveyors to discern trends in the health of the watershed and fish community.

Key words: condition, distribution, fish, relative abundance, river, South Dakota.


This resource is based on the following source:

Loomis, Todd M., Charles R. Berry, Jr., and Jack Erickson.  1999.  The fishes of the upper Moreau River basin.  Prairie Naturalist 31(4):193-214.

This resource should be cited as:

Loomis, Todd M., Charles R. Berry, Jr., and Jack Erickson.  1999.  The fishes of the upper Moreau River basin. Prairie Naturalist 31(4):193-214.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/fish/umrbfish/index.htm (Version 10JUL2001).


Table of Contents

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Todd M. Loomis, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007-1696. Current address: National Marine Fisheries Service, 222 West 7th Ave #7, Anchorage, AK 99513.
Charles R. Berry, Jr., U. S. Geological Survey, South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007-1696.
Jack Erickson, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, Rapid City, SD 57702-8160

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