Habitat characteristics of black crappie nest sites in an illinois impoundment


Ten nest colonies of black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus were visually located and verified by angling in Campus Lake, a small urban impoundment in southern Illinois. Habitat characteristics were measured at these nest sites and compared to habitat measurements obtained from 45 unused sites. Seven habitat characteristics (substrate firmness, temperature, dissolved oxygen, distance to deep water [3.8-m depth contour], substrate type, vegetation height, and vegetation density) were significantly different between nest sites and unused sites. Although temperature and dissolved oxygen were significantly different between nest sites and unused sites, all values were within the suitable range for black crappie spawning to occur. Black crappies selected nest sites close to deep water with firm substrates and low vegetation height and density. Our results present insight on habitat characteristics of black crappie spawning locations in a small urban impoundment. Interestingly, we located several black crappie nesting colonies with more than 10 individual nests in close proximity to one another; colonial nesting by black crappies has not previously been reported in the literature. Furthermore, we suggest that degree of shoreline modification and other anthropogenic influences in and adjacent to Campus Lake did not affect black crappie nest site selection. Black crappie nest sites in Campus Lake were always located near deep water (3.8 m), in low-density, short vegetation, and on firm clay or sand substrate; because nest site selection can influence earlylife survival and recruitment of black crappie, the availability of these habitat characteristics may regulate black crappie population demographics in Campus Lake. Efforts to limit sediment inputs will be important for maintaining suitable black crappie spawning habitat in Campus Lake and other small impoundments.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management