Graduate Program

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Thesis Director

Robert E. Colombo

Thesis Committee Member

Scott J. Meiners

Thesis Committee Member

Eden L. Effert-Fanta


The larval stage in fishes is an important stage in the life history, as their survival dictates the ability of the population to sustain itself as an adult population. While there is a plethora of information available for juvenile and adult life stages of Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), very little is understood about their larval life stage. This study sought to determine overall density, growth rates, and size structure of cohorts of age-0 Channel Catfish during a study year on the Wabash River. In 2018, I sampled age-0 Channel Catfish using a benthic trawl from May to September. I analyzed density, size structure, and growth over the sampling season. I also collected otoliths to determine ages and growth per day (mm/day). Density provided an insight into the spawning and hatching period in 2018, with density peaks in July and August. Size structure analysis confirmed the spawning period seen in the density estimates. The size structure also provided an insight into the multiple cohorts seen during one spawning season. It was observed that fish spawned later in the season grew faster than earlier spawned fish, but all fish followed a pattern of growth slowing the older they became. The density and growth estimates could be used to determine peak spawning and growth periods for age-0 Channel Catfish and predict if unfavorable conditions at those times will dictate future problems with survivorship and recruitment into the population.