Mixed-origins of channel catfish in a large-river tributary
Abstract An understanding of factors responsible for population structure including the origins of individuals from among habitats is fundamental to conservation and management of large-river fishes. The prevalence of population mixing of channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus was evaluated within a large-river tributary environment using information from recent environmental history and natal origin derived from otolith microchemistry. Trace elements in water and otoliths were assessed using univariate and multivariate statistical approaches. Water and otolith trace elements differed among river segments facilitating classification of channel catfish to the river segment of capture. Accuracy of the classification tree model for juvenile channel catfish ranged from 44% to 88%. Recent environmental and natal origin microchemistry signatures suggested the channel catfish population within a large-river tributary comprises individuals from multiple locations. Population demographics of channel catfish is likely influenced by mixing of individuals from across the riverine-network. Consideration of the importance of connectivity between main-stem and tributary systems may, therefore, benefit conservation and management of channel catfish and other large-river fishes displaying similar life-history strategies. Highlights Otolith microchemistry suggests fish population mixing in tributary environment. Multiple source environments may contribute individuals. Considering connectivity across riverine-network may benefit conservation and management.
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