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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Michael L. Brown


Yellow perch Perca flavescens is an important sport and prey fish present in over 80% of natural lakes in eastern South Dakota. Many of these yellow perch population densities fluctuate due to inconsistent recruitment and/or winterkill. Therefore, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) uses semi-permanent wetlands as yellow perch rearing ponds to support maintenance or supplemental stocking efforts. Age-0 yellow perch harvest in these rearing ponds is variable within and among ponds. Because little information is available about factors influencing yellow perch production in semi-permanent wetlands, my objectives were to: 1) monitor yellow perch movement and habitat selection during and after spawn in Little Brush Waterfowl Production Area (WPA), 2) compare yellow perch use of new and old (two- and three-year old) conifer trees as spawning substrate in Little Brush WPA, 3) investigate yellow perch reproductive biology in semi-permanent wetlands and identify factors related to increased juvenile production, 4) relate long-term harvest totals of yellow perch from semi-permanent wetlands to climatological conditions in eastern South Dakota, and 5) evaluate calcein as a chemical marking tool for juvenile yellow perch. Twenty pre-spawn yellow perch were equipped with radio tags and monitored during the spawn and for approximately two weeks post-spawn. Movement rates were highest during the crepuscular periods through the study and overall higher during the spawn. Male yellow perch remained in shallow, vegetated areas in close proximity to shore into the post-spawn period, while female yellow perch showed a shift toward deeper water further away from shore with silt as substrate. Yellow perch association with woody habitat (introduced and natural) was not detected during this study. However, egg mass deposition was detected and monitored on newly introduced and a combination of two- and three-year old conifer trees. Yellow perch did not select new trees over old trees as spawning substrate, but did select trees along the southeastern shore more frequently than trees located along the lee (northwestern) shore, respective to the prevailing wind. Yellow perch larval production, growth, and juvenile abundance were monitored throughout the summer in four semi-permanent wetlands to identify factors relating to increased abundance. Larval production was variable among wetlands and possibly influenced by a cold front that severely decreased heat intensity during the estimated hatching period. Growth rates in Dry Lake were higher than in Little Brush and were inversely related to density in the two wetlands. Additionally, growth was highly correlated with mean daily ambient temperature at the beginning of the summer, but the relationship subsided after temperatures exceeded 20°C, and may have been related to prey abundance. Climatological factors such as ambient temperature, wind, and precipitation have been reported to influence yellow perch recruitment in many systems; however, little is known about these relationships in semi-permanent wetlands. Therefore, I utilized historical rearing pond harvest data from the SDGFP to model climate effects on juvenile yellow perch production in semi-permanent wetlands. A set of models was developed for each climate variable to determine the time period when each variable was most influential on production, and then the most supported models were compared to determine the dominant climate variable or combinations of variables that affect yellow perch production. The model containing March through May precipitation, April air temperature, and a wetland identification parameter (wetland name) provided the best-supported model. This model suggested that, in addition to area climatic factors, intrinsic factor(s) may also significantly influence yellow perch production. I compared two immersion times and two calcein solution concentrations (four treatments) to produce externally detectable marks on yellow perch and compared mark longevity in indoor and outdoor settings. I did not observe any measurable toxic effects of calcein immersion on yellow perch. Survival was 100% for all treatments and final lengths and weights of treatment fish were not different from control fish (P < 0.05). All treatments produced bright external marks on all fins, scales and bony parts (e.g., head, opercle, and jaw) post-immersion. After 70 d, the brightest marks were detected on the anal and pelvic fins, the opercle and jaw. The highest concentration and longest immersion time produced marks that had the least apparent deterioration over time. Considerable mark deterioration was observed in the outdoor setting; however, after 89 days marks were still visible on the pelvic and anal fins of yellow perch from all four treatments. Additionally, all treatments produced marks on both sagittal otolith and parasphenoid bones (100% mark recognition by two readers in a blind trial); however, the parasphenoid provided less variable mark quality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Yellow perch -- South Dakota
Fish tagging -- South Dakota
Fish stocking -- South Dakota
Wetlands -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2006 Christopher M. Longhenry. All rights reserved.