Long-lived population demographics in a declining, vulnerable fishery — bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) of Jamestown Reservoir, North Dakota

Publication: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
9 April 2021


Despite decades of commercial harvest of bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) from Jamestown Reservoir, North Dakota, and the recent rapid growth of sport bowfishing that targets this species, there is a lack of biological information on this native catostomid. At present, no-limit recreational and commercial harvest of bigmouth buffalo occurs in North Dakota, with no harvest-reporting for recreational take. A long-lived life history was recently documented for this species, with a life-span exceeding 100 years. At Jamestown Reservoir, bigmouth buffalo were aged to 58 years of age, with onset of sexual maturity 10 years for females. Evidence for episodic recruitment over a 60-year period was in 1962–1979, 1993–2011, and 2017, with recruitment success more likely during non-drought periods. Annual commercial harvest data from this reservoir indicate bigmouth buffalo have declined significantly over the past 30 years, most precipitously since 2010 during the bowfishing era. The demographic patterns, episodic recruitment, and harvest changes observed in this population are relevant for informing management of bigmouth buffalo and other long-lived freshwater fishes.


Malgré des décennies d’exploitation commerciale du buffalo à grande bouche (Ictiobus cyprinellus) dans le réservoir de Jamestown (Dakota du Nord) et, récemment, la croissance rapide de la pêche sportive à l’arc visant cette espèce, les données biologiques sur ce meunier indigène sont rares. À l’heure actuelle, une pêche sportive et commerciale sans restriction au buffalo à grande bouche a cours au Dakota du Nord, où la pêche sportive n’est pas visée par une obligation de déclaration des prises. Un long cycle biologique a récemment été documenté pour cette espèce, sa longévité excédant 100 ans. Au réservoir de Jamestown, les âges déterminés de buffalos à grande bouche vont jusqu’à 58 ans, le début de la maturité sexuelle étant à 10 ans pour les femelles. Les données témoignent de recrutement épisodique sur une période de 60 ans durant les intervalles de 1962 à 1979, de 1993 à 2011 et en 2017, la probabilité de succès du recrutement étant plus grande durant les périodes sans sécheresse. Les données sur les prises commerciales annuelles de ce réservoir indiquent que les buffalos à grande bouche ont connu un déclin significatif au cours des 30 dernières années, qui est particulièrement prononcé depuis 2010, soit la période de la pêche à l’arc. Les motifs démographiques, le recrutement épisodique et les variations des prises observés dans cette population sont importants pour la gestion du buffalo à grande bouche et d’autres poissons d’eau douce longévifs. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume 78Number 10October 2021
Pages: 1486 - 1496


Received: 30 December 2020
Accepted: 5 April 2021
Published online: 9 April 2021


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Alec R. Lackmann alackman@d.umn.edu
University of Minnesota Duluth, Department of Biology, 1035 Kirby Drive, SSB 207, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.
Brandon J. Kratz
North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 3320 East Lakeside Rd., Jamestown, ND 58401, USA.
Ewelina S. Bielak-Lackmann
North Dakota State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Fargo, ND 58108 USA.
Reed I. Jacobson
University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, 123 Snyder Hall, 1475 Gortner Ave., Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA.
Derek J. Sauer
University of Auckland, Institute of Marine Science, Leigh Marine Laboratory, 160 Goat Island Road, Leigh 0985, New Zealand.
Allen H. Andrews
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Oceanography, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
Malcolm G. Butler
North Dakota State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Fargo, ND 58108 USA.
Mark E. Clark
University of Minnesota Duluth, Department of Biology, 1035 Kirby Drive, SSB 207, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.


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