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Tuesday, January 29 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
(P53) Bluegill Habitat Use in the Upper Mississippi River

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AUTHORS. Ethan Rutledge, Colby Gainer, Hae Kim, Quinton Phelps – West Virginia University Division of Forestry and Natural Resources; Melvin Bowler, Iowa Department of Natural Resources;

ABSTRACT. Anthropogenic modifications to the environment have had damaging effects on the wildlife that depend on those natural ecosystems. Specific to Upper Mississippi River fishes, channelization, dams, and loss of floodplain connectivity have all been purported as deleterious. In the face of these habitat modifications, understanding habitat requirements of individual species is needed in order to help guide management and restoration efforts. Furthermore, bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) are an important indicator species that may provide insight to habitat needs of the broader fish community (e.g., “canary in a coal mine”). Prior research suggests bluegill require a mosaic of habitats throughout all life stages (e.g., main channel to backwater connection). As such, the objective of this study was to identify the habitat needs of bluegill in the Upper Mississippi River. We evaluated bluegill habitat use via electrofishing conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Long-Term Resource Monitoring element. Electrofishing events (n=2,000) were conducted at three field sites (Pool 4 in Lake City, MN, Pool 8 in Onalaska, WI, and Pool 13 in Bellevue, IA) throughout the Upper Mississippi River from 1993 to 2017. Our results suggest that bluegill prefer backwater channels with shallow water (0.5-1.5m), low flows (.01-.19m/s), sandy substrates, and areas with woody debris. Management efforts that focus on the preservation of backwater habitat and connectivity to main channel should help to sustain bluegill populations in the Upper Mississippi River. The information garnered in this study can be used to help direct management efforts that not only favor bluegill, but also other members of the Upper Mississippi River fish community.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Attendees (5)