Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Martin J. Hamel

Second Advisor

Mark. A. Pegg

Date of this Version

Fall 12-3-2020

Document Type



Dean, Q. 2020. Population characteristics and movement of blue catfish in the Kansas River. Master's Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professors Martin J. Hamel & Mark A. Pegg. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2020

Copyright © 2020 Quintin J. Dean


Blue Catfish Ictalurus furcatus is a mobile, large-river species native to the Missouri River and its tributaries, including the Kansas River. Historical data regarding the Kansas River population is negligible, limiting managers’ ability to appropriately manage this population. Multiple anthropogenic barriers along the Kansas River create a gradient of connectivity within the Kansas River, and with the Missouri River, possibly limiting Blue Catfish movement. Additionally, the contribution of tributary-reservoir populations to the Kansas River remains unknown. My objectives were to: 1) describe population characteristics and 2) quantify stock contributions from the Missouri River and Kansas River tributary reservoirs to the lower Kansas River population. Relative abundance and condition were variable among years but similar across the gradient of connectivity. Somatic growth in the disconnected reach were greater than connected reaches; however, mean length of adult age groups were consistent across the study area. River segments connected with the Missouri River had lower annual mortality and higher proportions of large fish compared to the disconnected reach. Upstream passage was not documented at the second barrier on the Kansas River, suggesting the population upstream of the barrier is isolated from the Missouri River. Adult fish collected within river reaches connected to the Missouri River displayed relatively equal natal contributions from the Kansas River and Missouri River. Half of adult and juvenile fish sampled in reaches disconnected from the Missouri River originated from Kansas River tributary reservoirs. Our data suggests adopting two spatial scales for investigating and managing Blue Catfish in the Kansas River, with the second barrier as a point of division. Current statewide regulations are adequate for maintaining high trophy-potential in downstream river reaches. The large number of fish using the Missouri River indicates appropriate management requires a broad spatial scale that incorporates a dendritic river network framework. Future monitoring efforts, particularly for the disconnected reaches, is imperative as large reservoir stock contributions may elicit change in population characteristics.

Advisors: Martin J. Hamel & Mark A. Pegg