Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
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.