Patterns of movement and habitat use by northern hog suckers in an Ozark stream

Publication Date



habitat, sucker, ecology, radio telemetry, telemetry, Substrate, night, pool, riffle, spawning

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


Although the northern hog sucker (Hypentelium nigricans) is widely distributedthroughout the Mississippi and Ohio river basins and is both ecologically and recreationallyimportant, much of its basic ecology is not known. We determined movement and habitat use for25 fish in the Current River, Missouri, for 1 year using radio telemetry. Seasonal movements wererecorded two or three times each week during daylight hours from January to November 1988.Diet movement and habitat use were recorded once each hour for 17 d in winter and 12 d insummer. Mean daily distance traveled was greater in summer (425 m) than in winter (276 m).Home range was greater in winter and spring (812 m) than in summer and fall (426 m). Habitatuse changed seasonally from slower, deeper water and smaller substrates during winter toincreasing use of taster, shallower water and larger substrates through warmer-water periods. Inboth seasons, fish had a consistent daily pattern, moving more during the day than at night. Dietpatterns of use were distinct. In winter, fish used pool habitat with moderate flow during the dayand riffle or edge habitat at night. In summer, fish used run habitat during the day and riffle oredge habitat at night. Patterns of habitat use indicated fish used one area of the river during theday to feed and another at night to rest. Fish remained in their home area during high-flow eventsbut used flooded riparian areas where current velocities were lower. Fish moved up- ordownstream short distances (mean = 497 m, N = 7) into spawning areas during late February andearly March. This study emphasizes the importance of habitat diversity to accommodate thisspecies' diel and seasonal preferences and the necessity of a connected floodplain for the fish tosurvive catastrophic events.





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