Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Journal or Book Title
Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Sauger Sander canadensis, Walleye Sander vitreus, and Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu, are important sportfish in the four main stem Missouri River reservoirs in South Dakota: Lakes Oahe, Sharpe, Francis Case, and Lewis and Clark. However, native Sauger populations, once assumed to be stable, may be in decline. To identify temporal trends and potential interspecific mechanisms affecting Sauger populations, we examined their long-term abundance trends in standard gillnet surveys and angler catch and harvest trends in long-term creel surveys. We also used a robust design occupancy model to examine changes in within-lake distribution of this species. There are concerns regarding the effects of Walleye and Smallmouth Bass on Sauger, so we also described the population trends of these potential competitors. Standard gillnet surveys indicated declining abundance of both Sauger and Walleye in Lakes Oahe and Sharpe. Sauger abundance has trended down in Lewis and Clark, but upward in Francis Case. Conversely, Walleye abundance trends declined in Francis Case and increased in Lewis and Clark. Occupancy (ψ̂) of Sauger declined in all four reservoirs, indicating a contracting distribution throughout the reservoirs. Walleye occupancy remained ∼1.0. Smallmouth Bass occupancy increased in the three reservoirs with sufficient data for analysis, excluding Lewis and Clark Lake. Smallmouth Bass exhibited steady increases in angler catch and harvest, as well as abundance in long-term gillnet surveys, suggesting expanding and increasing populations. Habitat alteration is hypothesized to be a major driver of the Sauger occupancy and abundance declines. However, Walleye and Smallmouth Bass interactions could also be contributing to observed declines of native Sauger.
All material appearing in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission unless specifically noted with the copyright symbol ©. Citation of the source, as given above, is requested. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of theU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Fincel, Mark J.; Kludt, Nicholas B.; Meyer, Hilary A.; Weber, Michael; and Longhenry, Christopher M., "Long-Term Data Suggest Potential Interactions of Introduced Walleye and Smallmouth Bass on Native Sauger in Four Missouri River Impoundments" (2019). Natural Resource Ecology and Management Publications. 333.