Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Katie N. Bertrand


climate change, fish ladder, fish management, stream connectivity, stream-road crossings


Stream connectivity is essential for the persistence of fish populations and maintenance of fish assemblage structure. Stream-road crossings can become barriers resulting in a loss of connectivity. Creating innovative tools for fisheries managers to allow fish passage through barrier stream-road crossings is important worldwide as climate change may force range shifts to stay within thermal requirements. Understanding how populations and metapopulations respond to climate is important as fisheries managers can use this information to make informed management decisions in regards to climate change and possible range shifts. Thus, we developed and tested a fish ladder to retrofit barrier stream-road crossings and quantified recruitment, growth, mortality, body condition, and phenology of Central Stoneroller across three latitudes. The final fish ladder design was based on a Denil-type fish ladder and consisted of 14 evenly spaced flat-top baffles every 15.2 cm at 45° angles to the slope. We tested the fish ladder under controlled and field conditions. During the controlled study, all 14 species stocked were able to ascend the ladders in experimental streams with 13 species passing at rates equal to or greater than 50% whereas only one fish was observed passing the control (no ladder). Fish passed at all 19 field sites. Overall, 1,213 fishes representing 23 species passed fish ladders throughout the summer with a mean passage rate (± SE) in the Black Hills of 1.22 (0.38) fish/day and 28.05 (19.60) fish/day in the Northern Glaciated Plains. To understand climatic effects on Central Stoneroller, fish were sampled from three streams in each of three latitudes: 44.5° (South Dakota), 39.1° (Kansas), and 32.0° (Mississippi). Recruitment was consistent and growth and mortality were similar among latitudes. Maximum age observed was age-3 though age-3 fish were only found in the northern two latitudes. Body condition was similar among high and mid latitudes but was significantly lower in the southern latitude. Peak gonad development occurred later in the north than in the south; stoneroller peak gonadal somatic index (GSI) in Mississippi was 21% on day 65, whereas South Dakota GSI peaked at 15% on day 134. These results indicate that Central Stoneroller phenology is adapted to temperature and northern fish can compensate for shorter growing season as they showed no differences in growth.

Library of Congress Subject Headings


Central stoneroller -- Ecology

Central stoneroller -- Climatic factors


Stream conservation

Fish populations


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright