We conducted a radiotelemetry study to examine the effects of dissolved oxygen (DO), water temperature, and current velocity on winter habitat selection by bluegills Lepomis macrochirus and black crappies Pomoxis nigromaculatus in the Finger Lakes backwater complex, Pool 5, on the upper Mississippi River. When DO was above 2 mg/L, both species selected areas with water temperature greater than 1 degree C and undetectable current. As dissolved oxygen concentrations fell below 2 mg/L, fish moved to areas with higher DO, despite water temperatures of 1 degree C and lower and current velocities of 1 cm/s. Areas with water temperature less than 1 degree C and current velocity greater than 1 cm/s were avoided. To incorporate the winter habitat requirements of bluegills and black crappies into habitat restoration projects, we recommend designs that allow the inflow of oxygenated water to maintain adequate DO without substantially decreasing temperature and increasing current velocity.
Additional publication details
Responses of bluegills and black crappies to dissolved oxygen, temperature, and current in backwater lakes of the upper Mississippi River during winter