Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Scott J. Meiners

Thesis Committee Member

Robert E. Colombo


Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus are commonly found throughout the Mississippi River basin and support commercial and recreational fisheries in many large river systems. Understanding population demographics as well as movement patterns and habitat usage can provide a more holistic approach to species management and conservation. Within a 16-km stretch of the lower Wabash River, 27 channel catfish were implanted with acoustic transmitters to monitor fine scale movement and habitat use from September 2014 through April 2016. Channel catfish were located using active tracking during two types of tracking events. Site tracking occurred only during daylight hours and diel tracking monitored fish over a 24-h period. Channel catfish movements were measured from diel tracking locations as minimum displacement (m) or shortest linear distance between consecutive fish locations. Environmental factors such as seasonality, time of day, temperature, and water level were assessed to determine their influence on diel movement patterns and habitat use. During diel tracking, channel catfish exhibited greatest displacement in fall and decreased displacement in spring. Displacement was greatest at night across all four seasons with diurnal displacement greater in fall than winter and spring. Channel catfish activity increased with decreasing temperatures, while gauge height had no effect on movement. During the day channel catfish were located closer to the bank than the main channel and were most commonly found along banks composed of rip rap. Habitat use of channel catfish within a 24-hour period varied seasonally with locations most often occurring near rip rap banks in fall and spring, sand banks in winter, and clay banks in summer. Although difficult to infer direct relationships between abiotic factors and fine scale movement and habitat use patterns, channel catfish within the lower Wabash River appear to be altering their behavior to mitigate the effects of changing environmental conditions.