Effective management of the fishery resources of the Upper Mississippi River and successful mitigation of the loss of critical habitat depend in part on an understanding of the reproductive and early life history requirements of the affected fishes. However, little is known about the use of nursery areas by fishes in the river. Of the nearly 130 species identified in the adult ichthyofauna, only a few are represented proportionally in the available data on early life stages because study designs have not included consideration of the early stages, collection gears have not adequately sampled the young, and eggs and larvae of some species are difficult to sample by conventional approaches. For the species collected, information is available on seasonal variations in total densities, composition, and catch among different habitat types. However, the data are most accurate for species with buoyant early life stages, such as freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) and gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum). Eggs and larvae of freshwater drum dominate collections made in the main channel, whereas other larval fishes are usually most abundant in backwater habitats. The species found there usually deposit eggs on the substrate or on vegetation. Habitat preferences (as indicated by relative abundance) often shift as development proceeds and physical and behavioral changes occur in the larvae. Only limited information is available on the distribution of larvae within habitats, but it is clear that variations within habitats are significant.
Additional publication details
Distribution of early life history stages of fishes in selected pools of the upper Mississippi River