State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007ND152B
Title: An Examination of Life History Variation in White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni) Populations in North Dakota and Minnesota Drainages
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Ecology, Conservation, Surface Water
Keywords: White Sucker population, Habitat alteration, Life history traits
Principal Investigators: Clark, Mark; Ashworth, Allan; Bach, PDQ
Federal Funds: $ 12,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 24,000
Abstract: In the Midwest, extensive landscape modifications of prairie habitat due to agricultural practices, have altered the hydrology of most river basins; yet identifying the proximate mechanisms by which these landscape changes are passed to the species inhabiting these river basins remains elusive. Changes in turbidity, water chemistry, and temperature accompany changes in river hydrology, and represent major changes to the environment of fish inhabiting these rivers. Enhancing fish production and maintaining community structure are two major goals of the aquatic systems management of the state. Research on the mechanisms of habitat alteration on life history traits, such as growth, age at maturation, fecundity, immune function, and longevity, provide managers with the data and tools to better conserve ecological communities. The proposed research project will examine the variation in individual growth (size at age, length-weight ratio, body lipid levels), reproductive effort (gonad: body mass ratio, age at maturation, tubercle development) and physiology (metabolic rate, immune function) in white sucker populations distributed in North Dakota and Minnesota. In addition, relationships among watershed landcover, hydrology, and temperature and variation in white sucker life-history traits will be quantified. Results from this study will demonstrate connections between resource allocation and environmental conditions. By understanding constraints regulating life-history traits via resource allocation at the individual level, biologists may be able to better predict effects of habitat alteration on aquatic vertebrates.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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