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Wednesday, January 27 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Biotic Integrity and Smallmouth Bass Populations, Are They Associated In Minnesota Streams and Rivers?

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AUTHORS: Douglas J. Dieterman*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; John H. Hoxmeier, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Eric J. Krumm, Department of Biological Sciences, Minnesota State University-Mankato

ABSTRACT: The Clean Water Act (CWA) ensures protection of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s surface waters to provide fishable and swimmable recreational opportunities. Many government agencies use fish-based indices of biotic integrity (IBI) to classify streams and rivers into those that represent excellent, good, fair, or poor biotic integrity. Ideally, sites with higher IBI scores and classified as excellent or good biotic integrity, should have more abundant and resilient sport fish populations that support more recreational opportunities than sites with low IBI scores. We compared relative abundance of all quality-sized and larger sport fishes, with emphasis on relative abundance of four size groups of smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu among biotic integrity classes to verify an association between biotic integrity and recreationally-relevant sport fisheries. We also compared smallmouth bass size structure, condition, growth and recruitment constancy. We found significant differences in relative abundance of sport fishes and smallmouth bass size structure among IBI classes. These patterns generally reflected a lack of recreationally-relevant populations at sites with poor biotic integrity. Among remaining IBI classes, bass condition, growth and recruitment constancy did not differ. However, considerable variation in these parameters was explained by the individual sites. This indicates that other unmeasured site-specific factors may be more important modifiers of bass populations than overall biotic integrity. Bass condition also differed between length groups with larger bass in poorer condition than smaller bass. These results confirm the appropriateness of implementing management activities to maintain and enhance biotic integrity in support of recreational fisheries management, and more broadly, reinforce the use of biotic integrity classes as an indicator of achieving, at least, the “fishable” goal specified in the CWA.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Grandview A