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The Fishes of the Upper Moreau River Basin


Figure 1 - Map of Moreau River fish sampling sites in six South Dakota counties

Figure 1.  Map of the Moreau River fish sampling sites on the main river and on Battle Creek (1), Four-mile Creek (2), Alkali Creek (3), South Fork (4), Sand Creek (5), North Fork (6), Rabbit Creek (7), Thunder Butte Creek (8), and Deep Creek (9). Symbols show location of past survey stations as follows: box (Riis et al. 1988; Johnson et al. 1991, Ruelle et al. 1993); stars (Bailey and Allum 1962), triangles (Loomis 1997); and circles (SDGFP 1995).

  Stream fish communities in the semi-arid Great Plains Ecoregion (Omernik 1987) of the Upper Missouri River Basin have received little study. Surveys of fish have been completed in North Dakota to help plan energy development (Reigh and Owen 1979) and in Nebraska to develop biomonitoring protocols (DEQ 1991). In these states, riverine fish communities consist of 15 to 34 species and are dominated by cyprinids. Important recreational species are channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), which compose up to 4% of the catch in North Dakota, and sunfishes, which compose up to 11% of the catch in some Nebraska rivers. The only fish data for similar rivers in South Dakota are from cursory surveys done between 1931 and 1952 on the Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad, and White rivers (Bailey and Allum 1962).

The Moreau River, which flows through one of the most undeveloped river basins in South Dakota, can be generally characterized as a warmwater river with medium to high turbidity. Warmwater rivers exceed 24 to 26 C for extended periods of time (Moyle and Cech 2000). Bailey and Allum (1962) found 15 fish species by seining two sites on the mainstem in 1952 (Table 1, Fig. 1). Fifteen additional species (Table 1) were collected at the confluence with Lake Oahe (Riis et al. 1988, Johnson et al. 1991). There have been no fish surveys in the upper half of the Moreau River Basin. Our purpose was to 1) determine the distribution and abundance of fishes in the upper Moreau River, and 2) characterize the riverine habitat of the main river.

Table 1.  Number of fish (total = 6299) collected from the mainstem of the Moreau River in 1995-96, and species collected from the Moreau River mainstem in 1952 (Bailey and Allum 1962), in the confluence with Lake Oahe (Ruelle et al. 1993), and in nine headwater streams (SDGFP, 1995).
Species River Segment
Common Name  Scientific Name Headwater Mainstem Confluence 
1952 1995-96
Iowa darter Etheostoma exile X - - -
Brassy minnow Hybognathus hankinsoni X - - -
Creek chub Semotilus atromaculatus X - - -
Brook stickleback Culaea inconstans X - - -
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus X - - -
Flathead chub Platygobio gracilis X X 839 -
Longnose dace Rhinichthys cataractae X X 625 -
Plains minnowa Hybognathus placitus X X 178 -
Western silvery minnowa Hybognathus argyritis X X 204 -
Stonecat Noturus flavus X X 81 -
Green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus X X 15 -
Goldeye Hiodon alosoides X X 71 X
Common carp Cyprinus carpio X - 22 X
Fathead minnow Pimephales promelas X X 443 X
Golden shiner Notemigonus crysoleucas X - - X
Sand shiner Notropis stramineus X X 1164 X
River carpsucker Carpiodes carpio X X 284 X
Shorthead redhorse Moxostoma macrolepidotum X X 266 X
White sucker Catostomus commersoni X X 112 X
Black bullhead Ameiurus melas X X 52 X
Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus X X 514 X
Yellow perch Perca flavescens - X - X
Emerald shiner Notropis atherinoides - - 10 -
White bass Morone chrysops - - 1 -
Black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus - - 1 X
Largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides - - 1 X
Shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus - - - X
Shortnose gar Lepisosteus platostomus - - - X
Brown trout Salmo trutta - - - X
Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss - - - X
Bluntnose minnow Pimephales notatus - - - X
Blue sucker Cycleptus elongatus - - - X
Burbot Lota lota - - - X
Orangespotted sunfish Lepomis humilis - - - X
White crappie Pomoxis annularis - - - X
Sauger Stizostedion canadense - - - X
Walleye Stizostedion vitreum - - - X
Freshwater drum Aplodinotus grunniens - - - X
a Data for 1996 only when 41 specimens less than 46 mm long could not be identified to species; in 1995 all specimens of these two species (1375 fish) were identified only as Hybognathus spp.

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