Date of Graduation

Summer 2020


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Quinton Phelps


Channel Catfish, gear, population dynamics, hoop net, Mississippi River

Subject Categories

Aquaculture and Fisheries


Perpetual anthropogenic alterations have imposed deleterious effects on aquatic ecosystems. In the Mississippi River, channelization, dams, and loss of floodplain connectivity have all been reputed as detrimental. Dynamic rate functions (i.e., recruitment, growth, and mortality) are the driving forces behind fish populations. Understanding population dynamics is important for guiding management decisions. Knowledge of vital rates can provide pivotal information that will determine spatiotemporal population-level changes within the system. In the Mississippi River, Channel Catfish are a commercially and recreationally important species. However, limited population demographic information currently exists in the Upper Mississippi River. We sought to determine the most effective gear in collecting a representative sample of Channel Catfish, quantify Channel Catfish population dynamics in the Mississippi River, as well as the use of Channel Catfish as a bioindicator. Channel Catfish were collected by tandem hoop nets. Hoop nets were set according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River Restoration Program’s Long Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element sampling protocol. Quantifying population demographics provides managers a baseline for restoration. We see that Channel Catfish populations in Pool 4 and Pool 8 are longer lived, grow to larger sizes, but at a slower rate, and have more variable recruitment than the Channel Catfish populations in Pool 26 and the Open River Reach, while Channel Catfish populations in Pool 13 and the La Grange Pool of the Illinois River are experience more intermediate growth rate, size, and recruitment. These differences in life history can provide managers with baselines for assessing the overall population in the face of perturbations.


© Colby Gainer

Open Access