Environment Affects Sucker Catch Rate, Size Structure, Species Composition, and Precision in Boat Electrofishing Samples


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Catostomidae (catostomids) are suckers of the order Cypriniformes, and the majority of species are native to North America; however, species in this group are understudied and rarely managed. The popularity in bowfishing and gigging for suckers in the United States has increased concerns related to overfishing. Little information exists about the relative gear effectiveness for sampling catostomids. We sought to evaluate the relative effectiveness of boat electrofishing for sampling Black Redhorse Moxostoma duquesnei, Golden Redhorse M. erythrurum, Northern Hogsucker Hypentelium nigricans, White Sucker Catostomus commersonii, and Spotted Sucker Minytrema melanops populations in Lake Eucha, Oklahoma. We used an information theoretic approach to determine the abiotic variables related to sucker catch per effort (C/f). Our analysis indicated that sucker C/f was highest during the night and decreased with increasing water temperature. Sucker size structure was significantly different between daytime and nighttime samples; however, effect size estimates for size structure comparisons indicated that size distributions exhibited moderate overlap. Distributional comparisons indicated that daytime and nighttime samples were similar for fish greater than 180 mm in total length. Effect size estimates also indicated little association between the proportion of each species captured and time of day or water temperature. Night electrofishing in reservoirs at water temperatures from 16 to 25 & DEG;C yielded the most precise C/f estimates, with the highest numbers of suckers collected at water temperatures from 6 to 15 & DEG;C. Further study of the relationship between abiotic variables and catostomid catchability using various gears will be beneficial to agencies interested in these populations.
sucker sampling, electrofishing, size structure
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