Movement of stream fishes in Missouri


J K. Funk

Publication Date



bass, carp, catfish, channel, tagging, recapture, upstream, habitat

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


Eight hundred forty-six reports of tagged fish caught by anglers were analyzed todetermine the movement patterns of 14 species of native warm-water stream fishes. Eachspecies included a sedentary group which remained near the release point and a mobile groupwhich ranged more or less freely. The species could be classified according to the relativeabundance of the two groups. Rock bass, smallmouth bass, longear sunfish, spotted bass andyellow bullhead were classified as sedentary species; carp, flathead catfish, largemouth bass,golden redhorse, and black redhorse are semi-mobile; and channel catfish, freshwater drum andwhite crappie as mobile.The species varied greatly in the average number of days between tagging and recapture and inthe direction of movement and distances traveled by the mobile fish. The mobile group usuallywas free longer than the sedentary fish but frequently the difference in time was not great. Mobilefreshwater drum, golden redhorse, black redhorse, spotted bass, largemouth bass and longearsunfish tended to travel relatively long distances downstream and much shorter distancesupstream. The distances traveled by the remaining species were more nearly equal but theaverage distance traveled upstream was always the longer. Mobile yellow bullhead, greensunfish, spotted bass, longear sunfish and largemouth bass seldom traveled more than 25 milesbut some mobile carp moved over 200 miles. Other species traveled intermediate distances.When released in headwaters, sedentary species tended to be more sedentary, and semi-mobilespecies in their preferred habitat also tended to be more sedentary than the average. Mobilespecies and semi-mobile species not in their preferred habitat became more mobile. Most of themobile fish released in headwaters moved downstream. For the four most numerous species (rock bass, channel catfish, carp, smallmouth bass) data arepresented to show the effect of release location, season and age upon movement. Rock basswere more sedentary in headwaters than farther downstream but channel catfish were moremobile in headwaters. Mobile fish of both species tended to move downstream when released inheadwaters but to make more upstream movements when released in downstream areas. Carpseemed to adapt their movements to the physical conditions in the habitat. They were mostlysedentary in stable habitats but predominantly mobile in habitats subject to flooding. Thesubspecies of the fish, the type of stream and the geographical location of the release site mayhave affected the amount and direction of movement of smallmouth bass. All four speciesshowed a relatively high proportion of mobile fish in the spring and low proportions in thesummer. Data on fall movements were not conclusive. Rock bass, channel catfish andsmallmouth bass of intermediate age were more mobile than either the younger or the older fish.The concept that the native population of warm-water stream fish consists of a sedentary and amobile group provides a logical explanation of many observed phenomena and a contradictoryresults which have confused some investigators. It supplements recent findings concerning thehome ranges of species if it is assumed that only the sedentary group was investigated.





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