Habitat characteristics at bluegill spawning colonies in a South Dakota glacial lake


Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) primarily reproduce in spawning colonies. We assessed habitat characteristics at 15 bluegill spawning colonies in a South Dakota glacial lake. Nesting sites were visually identified and angling was used to verify the species of nesting fish. Habitat characteristics were measured at each nesting site and compared with those measured at 75 randomly selected sites. In Lake Cochrane, mean water depth of spawning colonies was 1.0m. Of the 13 habitat characteristics measured, four (substrate type, substrate firmness, vegetation density and dissolved oxygen levels) were significantly different (P ≤0.05) between nesting and random sites. Every bluegill nest site contained gravel substrate, despite the availability of muck, sand and rock. Substrate firmness was indexed at 0-cm penetration and vegetation density was low at all nesting sites. Additionally, bluegills selected nesting locations with relatively moderate dissolved oxygen levels. Lake Cochrane bluegill nest sites consisted of shallow, gravel areas with short, low-density, live submergent Chara vegetation.

Document Type





Bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus, Nestsubstrate, Reproduction

Publication Date


Journal Title

Ecology of Freshwater Fish