Population demographics of catostomids in large river ecosystems: effects of discharge and temperature on recruitment dynamics and growth

River Research and Applications
By:  and 



Catostomids are among the most widespread and ecologically important groups of fishes in North America, particularly in large river systems. Despite their importance, little information is available on their population demographics and even less is known about factors influencing their population dynamics. The objectives of this study were to describe annual mortality, recruitment variation, and growth of eight catostomid species, and to evaluate the effects of discharge and temperature on year-class strength and growth in Iowa rivers. Catostomids were sampled from 3-km reaches in four nonwadable rivers during June–August 2009. Northern hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans, golden redhorse, Moxostoma erythrurum, and shorthead redhorse, M. macrolepidotum, typically lived 6–8 years, had very stable recruitment, and had high total annual mortality (i.e., 40–60%). Golden redhorse exhibited the fastest growth of all species. Growth of northern hogsucker and shorthead redhorse was intermediate to the other catostomids. Highfin carpsucker, Carpiodes velifer, quillback, Carpiodes cyprinus, and white sucker, Catostomus commersonii, had high growth rates, low mortality (i.e., 25–30%), and relatively stable recruitment. River carpsucker, Carpiodes carpio, and silver redhorse, M. anisurum, had higher maximum ages (up to age 11), slower growth, lower total annual mortality (20–25%), and higher recruitment variability than the other species. Neither discharge nor temperature was strongly related to recruitment of catostomids. In contrast, several interesting patterns were observed with regard to growth. Species (e.g., carpsuckers, Carpiodes spp.) that typically consume prey items most common in fine substrates (e.g., chironomids) had higher growth rates in reaches dominated by sand and silt substrate. Species (e.g., northern hogsucker) that consume prey associated with large substrates (e.g., plecopterans) had much faster growth in reaches with a high proportion of rocky substrates. Temperature was weakly related to growth of catostomids; however, discharge explained a substantial amount of the variation in growth of nearly all species. Results of this study provide important information on the autecology of catostomids that can be used for comparison among species and systems. These data also suggest that connection of rivers with their floodplain is an important feature for catostomids in temperate river systems.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Population demographics of catostomids in large river ecosystems: effects of discharge and temperature on recruitment dynamics and growth
Series title River Research and Applications
DOI 10.1002/rra.1545
Volume 28
Issue 9
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Description 20 p.
First page 1567
Last page 1586
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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