Northern hogsucker


Northern hogsucker
Northern hogsucker
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae
Genus: Hypentelium
Species: H. nigricans
Binomial name
Hypentelium nigricans
(Lesueur, 1817)

The northern hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans, belongs to the Catostomidae family of sucker fish. The fish inhabits the rivers of the Mississippi basin, found from Oklahoma and Alabama northward to Minnesota. It prefers clear, fast streams, where it can forage through pebbles for bottom life, especially aquatic insects. It grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) in length.

Contents

Abstract

The following is a description of a monitoring plan for Hypentelium nigricans. Hypentelium nigricans occupies the Mississippi, eastern Great Lakes and the middle Atlantic river drainages. Hypentelium nigricans typically feeds on early stages of bottom dwelling organisms such as snails and insects. Feeding mechanisms involve turning over small stones with its protruding mouth and engulfing organisms that have been uncovered and dislodged. The species traditionally spawns over shallow gravel areas in early spring. Females can be courted by numerous males and shallow depressions in the substrate may occur from this action. Male specimens can reach sexual maturity in their second season, while females usually do not reach maturity until their third year. Hypentelium nigricans may reach sizes of up to 330 mm by the end of their fifth growing season. Exceptionally large examples of this species are usually female. The species can live to about eleven years.[1] Although the species is not currently found on any state or federal threatened/endangered listings, it is still susceptible to the manmade influences that have affected other freshwater fish species. Channelization, sedimentation, pollution, and dam construction always have the potential to alter populations of the species. Availability of suitable spawning habitat could be a detriment in the future and should be monitored closely.[2] Hypentelium nigricans can be found in national and state parks throughout its range, the largest being the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is common throughout all streams in the park up to 2800 feet in elevation. This area of its native range provides the greatest amount of protection to the species, since all plant and animal species are protected within National Park boundaries.[3]

Geographic distribution of species

Hypentelium nigricans occupies a range which includes the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River) and Mississippi River basins from Minnesota to New York and southern Ontario, south to northern Alabama, southern Arkansas, and eastern Louisiana, west to eastern Oklahoma; upper Atlantic slope from Mohawk-Hudson River, New York, to Altamaha River, northern Georgia; Gulf Slope drainages from Pascagoula River, Mississippi, to Comite River, Louisiana; also upper Mobile Bay drainage, Alabama, and upper Chattahoochee River drainage, Georgia. This current range of the species is very similar to its historic range with the exception of some extirpation from certain drainages in its far western reaches. Habitat disturbance due to agriculture practices in states such as South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma have contributed to the small scale extirpation. [4]

Ecology

The northern hogsucker is a very common species that can be found in or next to riffle areas in warm water, medium sized creeks and small rivers. It can also occur in cold water streams, tiny creeks and large rivers and on occasion in reservoirs. The northern hogsucker’s diet mainly consists of insect larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, diatoms and other small forms of vegetation. While feeding it scrapes of the top surface of rubble, turns over stones on the bottom, and sucks the loosened material which contains a variety of small organisms. These actions produce a unique relationship with some shiner species and smallmouth bass. When the hogsucker, is feeding it causes many organisms to be dislodged. In turn, the other fish species strategically position themselves downstream to feed on the free flowing materials and organisms. Predators of the northern hogsucker typically depend on its environment. The species inhabits mainly shallow, fast flowing streams. During its early years in these streams it can fall prey to piscivorous species. However, later in life it is typically one of the larger species in the waterways it inhabits. In the northern tier of its range, the northern hogsucker can be found in deeper streams and lakes which make them susceptible to large predatory species such as muskellunge and northern pike even at mature stages in life. Competition can be from other sucker species and redhorse species usually over breeding habitat. During the egg laying process, daces, minnows, chubs will sometimes forage on the freshly expelled eggs. These three species types are usually the most common found with the northern hogsucker.[5]

Life history

Spawning takes place in shallow water riffles usually during May. Breeding males will congregate over these gravel areas where receptive females may be courted by several males. The spawning activity is violent, and shallow depressions are formed in the gravel from the commotion. The eggs are non-adhesive and settle on the gravel. Breeding is usually once a year due to the specific time and water temperatures, around 15 degrees Celsius, to do so. Males will reach sexual maturity in two years while females generally take around three. The average life span is at eleven years. Specimens in smaller streams grow smaller in size and reach sexually at later times in life. The building of dams which restrict migration for spawning and alters the stream channel configuration above and below the dam can be a detriment to the species. Also, construction, development and unsound agricultural practices such as cattle in waterways have produced sedimentation which in turn destroys living and breeding habitats within the streams.[6]

Current management

Not constructing dams or altering channels, low to minimal development near waterways, and alternative agricultural methods near bodies of water are all things that could reduce human impact on the species. At the present time, the northern hogsucker is not listed as threatened or endangered on any state or federal level. Even in the small areas of its range where it has been extirpated there is still a viable population in nearby waterways. However, it does share similar habitat areas with other species that are listed as threatened/endangered. All practices and attempts to save these species are a benefit to the hogsucker as well. The northern hogsucker is a hearty, robust species that is currently thriving within its natural range. It is moderately tolerant to outside influences on its habitat. Factors such as hybridization, over-fishing, or invasive species have not had a major impact on species populations. Large scale pollution and habitat alteration can affect any fish species numbers. However, since the northern hogsucker’s range is so vast, isolated habitat altering incidences do not a have great effect on the total species population. Since the northern hogsucker is doing relatively well, it does not receive high profile attention on a conservation level. State and federal parks can be found within its range which provides the species the most protection.[7]

Management recommendations

The northern hogsucker is a resilient species with a large native range. Each area of its range does present some minute habitat differences. So, management and monitoring would have to be specific to each area. The most important management principle would have to be habitat conservation which benefits not only the hogsucker and other fish species, but terrestrial species as well. The prevention of man-made reservoirs from dam construction would be the major component of active management for this species. Alteration of natural waterways invites a number of threats like sedimentation, invasive species and pollution to have an effect on survival. A three pass depletion method in the species’ typical stream environment throughout all of its range would provide the most accurate results in monitoring and gathering population data. Electroshockers with isolation nets set at fifty meters apart are the most useful pieces of equipment for accomplishing this task. Gathering this data once a year should be sufficient in monitoring for this species until a major decline is noticed in population numbers. Invasive species that are identified during the depletion process should be removed and eliminated.

Anatomy

~ Grows up to 2 feet in length. ~ Weighs up to 4 pounds. ~ Elongate, concave-headed, bumpy-lipped sucker. ~ Inferior mouth that does not extend past snout tip. ~ Eyes near top of head. ~ Flattened head. ~ Nuptial tubercles on male on the anal fin and lower tail fin lobe. ~ Dark saddles on back. ~Looks similar to Roanoke Hog Sucker, but much larger.

References

  1. ^ Raney, E. C., and E. A. Lachner. 1946. Age, growth, and habits of the hog sucker, Hypentelium nigricans (LeSueur), in New York. American Midland Naturalist 36(1):76-86.
  2. ^ Grabowski, T. B., N. L. Ratterman, and J. J. Isely. 2008. Demographics of the spawning aggregations of four Catostomid species in the Savannah River, South Carolina and Georgia, USA. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17(2):318-327.
  3. ^ Grossman, G. D., and R. E. Ratajczak. 1998. Long-term patterns of microhabitat use by fish in a southern Appalachian stream from 1983 to 1992: effects of hydrological period, season and fish length. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 7(3):108-131.
  4. ^ Raney, E. C., and E. A. Lachner. 1946. Age, growth, and habits of the hog sucker, Hypentelium nigricans (LeSueur), in New York. American Midland Naturalist 36(1):76-86.
  5. ^ Scott, W. B., and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Fish. Res. Bd. Can. Bulletin 184:1-966.
  6. ^ Matheney, M. P. and C. F. Rabeni. 1995. Patterns of movement and habitat use by northern hogsuckers in an Ozark stream. American Fisheries Society. transactions 124(6):886-897.
  7. ^ Grossman, G. D., and R. E. Ratajczak. 1998. Long-term patterns of microhabitat use by fish in a southern Appalachian stream from 1983 to 1992: effects of hydrological period, season and fish length. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 7(3):108-131.

1.Grabowski, T. B., N. L. Ratterman, and J. J. Isely. 2008. Demographics of the spawning aggregations of four Catostomid species in the Savannah River, South Carolina and Georgia, USA. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17(2):318-327.

2.Grossman, G. D., and R. E. Ratajczak. 1998. Long-term patterns of microhabitat use by fish in a southern Appalachian stream from 1983 to 1992: effects of hydrological period, season and fish length. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 7(3):108-131.

3.Matheney, M. P. and C. F. Rabeni. 1995. Patterns of movement and habitat use by northern hogsuckers in an Ozark stream. American Fisheries Society. transactions 124(6):886-897.

4.Raney, E. C., and E. A. Lachner. 1946. Age, growth, and habits of the hog sucker, Hypentelium nigricans (LeSueur), in New York. American Midland Naturalist 36(1):76-86.

5.Scott, W. B., and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Fish. Res. Bd. Can. Bulletin 184:1-966.



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