Date of this Version
Environ Biol Fish (2012) 93:589–598 DOI 10.1007/s10641-011-9952-6
Recruitment of walleye (Sander vitreus Mitchill) is limited in irrigation reservoirs of the Republican River basin in southwestern Nebraska. The causal mechanism for this limited recruitment is unknown, but may be related to a lack of suitable spawning habitat. Patch occupancy models were developed to describe variation in detection probability and habitat selection during spawning season using shoreline electrofishing data. Detection of adult walleye was negatively affected by water temperature, silt substrate, and woody cover. Adult walleye selected sites with cooler water temperatures and greater fetch at Enders Reservoir, and large rock substrate and no cover at Hugh Butler Lake; these characteristics are limited to areas on or near the riprap dams in both reservoirs. Walleye eggs were also only found in these areas. We conclude that patch occupancy modeling provided valuable information when considering habitat improvement projects and propose a management approach for the addition of walleye spawning habitat in irrigation reservoirs.