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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Brian D.S. Graeb

Second Advisor

Kinchel D. Doerner


channel catfish, south dakota, growth, population, ecology


Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus are a major sportfish in the Missouri River basin, and despite being one of the most abundant species in South Dakota rivers and reservoirs, the impact of Channel Catfish populations and factors that influence their dynamic rates are not known. To address the lack of understanding of the basic ecology of Channel Catfish in South Dakota we studied nine South Dakota reservoirs (small impoundments, tributary-storage reservoirs, mainstem Missouri River reservoirs) to 1) identify and quantify Channel Catfish diets and potential predatory effects on the sportfish community, 2) explore abiotic and biotic factors that influence Channel Catfish growth, 3) determine factors that structure Channel Catfish recruitment within South Dakota reservoirs. We found that diets were wide and diverse with a number of prey items found. Channel Catfish exhibited specialized feeding patterns with many sub niches contributing to the overall population level niche. This opportunistic feeding strategy resulted in few sport fish found in diets, and likely low population level consumption effects on prey resources. Among small impoundments, tributary reservoirs, and mainstem reservoirs, recruitment and growth was highly variable. Both abiotic and biotic factors explained much of the variability we observed. Growth was highest in reservoirs with high reservoir productivity, low Channel Catfish density, and longer growing season. Resource availability (i.e. reservoir productivity, Channel Catfish density) was most influential for growth, and only when resources were not limiting was climate able to greatly affect growth. Channel Catfish recruitment was strongly influenced by reservoir hydrology. Consistent hydrology (i.e. low retention time, stable reservoir elevation) that most reflected riverine condition produced consistent recruitment and strong year classes. This study furthered our understanding of Channel Catfish ecology in South Dakota reservoirs. Our results will inform management strategies that better utilize Channel Catfish as part of the sportfish community and provide increased angling opportunities for resident and non-resident anglers.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Channel catfish -- Ecology -- South Dakota
Channel catfish -- Food -- South Dakota
Channel catfish -- South Dakota -- Growth



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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