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Tuesday, February 7 • 8:00am - 8:20am
Technical Session. Trophic Dynamics of Flathead Catfish in the Lower Channelized Missouri River Bordering Nebraska

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AUTHORS: Dylan Turner, Mark Pegg, Martin Hamel — University of Nebraska-Lincoln

ABSTRACT: Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris are often considered apex predators where they exist and can have detrimental effects on native prey species where introduced, yet little information regarding the role of predation by native Flathead Catfish on game fish and species of concern exists. Furthermore, modifications to rivers (e.g., channelization, revetment, and construction of dams) have likely increased the amount of suitable habitat and influenced the trophic dynamics available for Flathead Catfish, ultimately leading to greater abundances of this predator.  To determine the influence Flathead Catfish have on other species within the lower channelized Missouri River, we posed three overarching research questions: 1) what is the diet composition of Flathead Catfish; 2) is there a difference in mean stomach fullness of Flathead Catfish among seasons; and 3) how much are Flathead Catfish consuming in the channelized Missouri River during each season?  We used pulsed gastric lavage to collect stomach contents (470 diet samples from 780 Flathead Catfish) across three distinct seasons; May-June (spring), July-August (summer), and September-October (fall).  The four most common diet items by weight found in catfish stomachs include: Siluriformes, Decapoda, Ephemeroptera, and unidentified fish.  The proportion of stomachs with prey items present was similar in spring (74%) and summer (72%) but lower in the fall (37%).  Mean stomach fullness did not significantly differ between season for each size class.  Continued work to develop a bioenergetics model to estimate total daily and annual prey consumption will aid in understanding the pathway of energy throughout the food web within the channelized Missouri River.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 8:00am - 8:20am CST
Grand Ballroom C