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Biotic Community

Fish Community Data

The first scientific fish collecting in the Nodaway River may have been conducted in the late 1880's or early 1890's (Jordan and Meek 1885). No specific article or documentation, however was located to confirm this. Harry Harrison (Iowa Conservation Commission fisheries biologist) undoubtedly collected fish from the Nodaway River basin in the 1950's, but his field notes were destroyed in a move in the 1970's (John Olson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IADNR), personal communication). The first documented collections were made by G. V. Harry from the University of Michigan, in conjunction with MDC, in the summers of 1940 and 1941. Perry E. Robinson conducted five samples, two of which were resurveys of Harry’s sites, during the summer of 1957 (Pflieger 1971). These are the only known samples prior to 1995, and data from the Harry and Robinson samples are included in the MDC database at Columbia, Missouri. MDC personnel resurveyed one of these sites in 1995. The other four were resurveyed in 1997 along with eight additional sites. The recent and historic sample sites can be found on the maps in Figure Bc01.

During the early 1990's, John Olson (IADNR) conducted seine surveys at fourteen sites in the Iowa portion of the basin (sample sites can be found on the maps in Figure Bc01) in conjunction with a study of the designated use for warm water streams. Information from these samples can be found in Figure Bc02.

Fourteen sites were sampled by MDC personnel between 1995 and 1997. Five of these were surveys (using seines and electroshocking), of historical collection sites, originally sampled between 1940 and 1957 (Table Bc01). Eight sites were sampled for the first time in 1997. In 1997, thirteen sites were sampled in conjunction with basin planning efforts and 5,913 fish were collected. The collections and/or records are housed at the MDC Northwest Regional Office, St. Joseph, Missouri.

Forty-seven fish species, representing twelve families have been sampled or otherwise documented as occurring in the Nodaway River basin. The families in order by number are: Cyprinidae (15 species), Catostomidae (8 species), Centrarchidae (7 species), Ictaluridae (5 species), Percidae (4 species), Lepisosteidae (2 species), and Polyodontidae, Esocidae, Hiodontidae, Clupeidae, Moronidae, Sciaendae (1 species each). Forty-three of these can be classified by faunal region. The samples are representative of five faunal regions: big river (32.6%), wide ranging (32.6%), prairie (20.8%), Ozark-prairie (9.3%), and Ozark (4.7%). A list of common and scientific names can be found in Table Bc02. For the sake of simplicity only the common names will be used in the text of this document.

Thirty-three species were collected during current sampling efforts (1995-1997) and are the basis for the following comparisons. Seventeen species collected in recent samples had not previously been documented in the basin. Lack of documentation can be attributed to limited sampling in the past.

Two species, flathead chub and quillback, that had been collected between 1940 and 1957 in Missouri, were absent from recent MDC samples. Quillback/plains carpsucker were captured at 8 of 14 sites in the 1990 IADNR survey by John Olson. Flathead chubs were found at four of the 14 sites surveyed.

The flathead chub in Missouri is listed as state endangered (MDC 1997) and is currently being considered for federal listing (Paul McKenzie, USFWS, pers. comm.). Pflieger (1997) noted that their preferred habitat in northwest Missouri was pools of small creeks with moderately clear waters, little current, and a bottom composed of coarse gravel and bedrock. Descriptions from Olson (IADNR, personal communication) indicate that this type of habitat was present at three of the four sites where flathead chubs were collected in Iowa. This may explain their absence in Missouri, since these conditions are rare in the lower basin. A few tributaries near the mouth of the Nodaway River have comparable habitat. Quillback are most abundant in clear prairie streams having stable bottoms composed of gravel or other coarse material (Pflieger 1997). Conditions in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri make this type of habitat virtually non-existent.

The most widely distributed species in the basin was the red shiner. It was present at all sample sites in Missouri, 13 of the 14 Iowa sample sites, and made up roughly 60% (by number) of the recent Missouri samples. The highest relative abundance of red shiners at a single site was 89.0%. They made up greater than 50% of the sample at five sites, and more than 33% of the sample at 13 of the 14 Missouri sites. Comparisons are made at two historically sampled locations (Table Bc03). Locality number 0956, first sampled in July of 1941, had a red shiner relative abundance of 3.5%. In the October 1997 sample from this site, red shiner relative abundance was 68.9%. Similar changes were seen at the other comparable site, locality number 0957. The July 1940 sample had a red shiner relative abundance of 1.5% while the relative abundance from July 1997 was 81.9%. Based on these comparisons, it appears that the red shiner’s generalist nature and tolerance for degraded conditions has allowed it to proliferate over other fishes in the Nodaway River basin during the past four decades. At sites where red shiner relative abundance increases were noted, decreases in relative abundance were observed in sand shiners, fathead minnows, and suckermouth minnows (Table Bc03). Red shiners were the most commonly collected open water species. Other open water species commonly collected were sand shiners, bigmouth shiners, creek chubs, fathead minnows, and emerald shiners. Central stonerollers, plains minnows, silver chubs, and speckled chubs were collected in small numbers (Figure Bc03).

The most commonly sampled large fishes were channel catfish, river carpsuckers, green sunfish, and common carp. These fish are all tolerant of the degraded conditions commonly found in the Nodaway River basin. Other fish collected were shortnose gar, longnose gar, goldeye, gizzard shad, bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, yellow bullhead, black bullhead, flathead catfish, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, sauger, and freshwater drum.

Benthic species were the least represented group. The only documented species in this category was suckermouth minnow (sampled at six of the fourteen sites) comprising only 0.8% of the total sample.

Aquatic Invertebrates

Oesch (1984) indicated that six species of freshwater mussels historically occurred in the Nodaway River basin (Table Bc04). Sue Bruenderman (MDC, personal communication) has indicated that in recent surveys of northern Missouri streams, mussels have been found that were thought to be eliminated. No current collections of mussels in the Nodaway River basin were located.

Three crayfish have ranges that include the Nodaway river basin (Table Bc05). Crayfish were captured at several 1997 sampling locations, but none were preserved or identified.

Very limited collection of aquatic insects has been done in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri. Sampling of adult dragonflies in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri was conducted in 1997 by Linden Trial (MDC, personal communication). The results can be found in Table Bc06. One other documented insect collection (butterfly’s) was obtained from Kevin Blazek of the Adair County Conservation Board. Observations in 5 counties were made and 58 species of butterfly’s were identified. Fourteen species were recorded from Adair county (Woodside Prairie in the Nodaway River basin was one site specifically mentioned).

Reptiles and Amphibians

Some reptiles (Table Bc07) and amphibians (Table Bc08) of interest whose ranges include part of the Nodaway River basin are the western fox snake, massasauga rattlesnake, great plains toad, plains spadefoot toad, and great plains narrowmouth toad (Dr. Dave Easterla, NW Missouri State University, personal communication). All of these species have a strong wetland-plain or river floodplain association. Due to extensive basin modification, most of these species are restricted to isolated areas of remaining suitable habitat. Recent collections in northwest Missouri and southwestern Iowa have been in isolated areas of remnant habitat and/or in the floodplain of large tributaries of the Missouri River. The range for the amphibians is restricted, in general, to the Missouri River floodplain. Due to their secretive nature and life history habits, these species are hard to document through collection.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Table Bc09 lists state and federal status of rare and endangered species for the Nodaway River basin in Missouri. Table Bc10 lists the rare and endangered species as well as high quality natural communities in the Iowa portion of the basin.

Greater prairie chickens released in eastern Adair County, Iowa have been observed in the upper areas of the Nodaway River basin (K. Blazek, personal communication). A small greater prairie chicken population is located in southern Nodaway County but none have been observed in the Nodaway River Basin (Tom Nagel, MDC, personal communication).

Dr. Easterla indicated that the massasauga rattlesnake was historically collected in Nodaway County at what is now Bilby Ranch Lake Conservation Area. He has not seen or collected one there in over 30 years and considers them extirpated in that area although they are still occasionally encountered at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge and Bigelow Marsh which are a few miles south of the Nodaway basin in Holt County.

Great blue heron rookeries were found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri (MDC 1997).

Fish Stocking

Fish stocking in the basin has been undertaken by three main entities, the IADNR, the MDC, and private individuals. The majority of the basin’s public lakes are found in Iowa and fall under management of the IADNR. The only public impoundments managed by the MDC are those at Bilby Ranch Lake CA and a few ponds on other conservation areas. A complete list of fish stocked in state managed waters can be found in Table Bc11. The MDC offers a stocking program for private ponds which meet the eligibility requirements. The MDC supplies largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish to eligible pond owners for initial stocking. Additional information and pond stocking request can be gathered at the NW Regional MDC Office in St. Joseph. Walleye is another common species stocked in Iowa waters and saugeye have been stocked in Lake Icaria. Yellow bass and yellow perch have been collected in the Iowa portion of the basin, most likely from incidental stockings. They continue to spread throughout southern Iowa, though none have been documented in the Missouri portion of the basin.

Grass carp have been stocked in numerous impoundments throughout the basin to control aquatic vegetation, and escapement has occurred. Natural reproduction has been documented in the lower Missouri River (Brown and Coon 1994). Common carp are also an introduced species which has a large presence in the basin and provide angling opportunities. Recently, bighead carp have been caught in the Nodaway River by anglers and are probably immigrating from the Missouri River where they have become established. Black and white crappie have been stocked in some state managed waters in Iowa and private impoundments throughout the basin.

Creel Survey Data

The only creel information available for the Nodaway River basin is the statewide general creel census compiled by John Funk (MDC) for the years 1946 through 1958. Channel catfish, common carp, and bullheads were the most frequently harvested fish in the Nodaway River basin during this time period. A creel survey to determine harvest, use, and attitudes of current anglers would be very useful in guiding future management of the Nodaway River basin waters.

Present Regulations

Statewide creel and fish size limits apply to the streams and rivers in the Nodaway River basin. Special regulations may apply to some public impoundments in the basin.

Figure Bc01: Location of fish sample sites in the Missouri portion of the Nodaway River watershed

Location of fish sample sites in the Missouri portion of the Nodaway River watershed. Sites are represented by the black circles for historic sites and red circles for new sites.

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Figure Bc02: Fish samples from the Nodaway River basin in Iowa in the 1990's

Fish samples from the Nodaway River basin in Iowa in the 1990's. Click on the red circles to view the sample data.

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Table Bc01: Historic sample sites for fish in the Missouri portion of the Nodaway River basin

Historic sample sites for fish in the Missouri portion of the Nodaway River basin

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Table Bc02: Common and scientific names and period collected for fish in the Nodaway River basin

Common and scientific names and period collected for fish in the Nodaway River basin

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Table Bc03: Relative abundance comparisons (percent) between historic and recent collections

Relative abundance comparisons (percent) between historic and recent collections from sites 0956 and 0957 (MDC data base).

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Figure Bc03: Fish samples from the Nodaway River basin in Missouri from 1995-1997

Fish samples from the Nodaway River basin in Missouri from 1995-1997

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Table Bc04: Mussels historically found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri

Mussels historically found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri (Oesch 1984)

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Table Bc05: Crayfish species found in the Nodaway River basin

Crayfish species found in the Nodaway River basin ( Phillips 1980, Pflieger 1996).

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Table Bc06: Dragonflies found in the Nodaway River basin

Dragonflies found in the Nodaway River basin (Linden Trial, MDC Files).

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Table Bc07: Aquatic reptiles found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri

Aquatic reptiles found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri (Johnson 1987).

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Table Bc08: Amphibians found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri

Amphibians found in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri (Johnson 1987).

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Table Bc09: Threatened and endangered species in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri

Threatened and endangered species in the Nodaway River basin in Missouri (USFWS 1996, MDC 1997 ).

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Table Bc10: Threatened, endangered, species of concern and rare natural communities in the Iowa portion of the Nodaway River

Threatened, endangered, species of concern and rare natural communities in the Iowa portion of the Nodaway River basin (K. Bogenschutz IADNR, personal communication).

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Table Bc11: Fish stocked in the Nodaway River basin by the MDC and IADNR

Fish stocked in the Nodaway River basin by the MDC and IADNR (J.Hudson and M. McGhee IADNR, personal communication and MDC NW Region files).

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