The plains topminnow Fundulus sciadicus appears to be experiencing reductions in geographic range and local abundance, which has led to regional protection throughout its native range. Conservation of this species may require introductions to reestablish populations at known historic locations. Therefore, a pond was constructed during September 2007 to house a refuge population of plains topminnow in Nebraska. A total of 123 plains topminnow were stocked into the pond in two stocking events during 2008. Plains topminnow populations were sampled throughout 2008 and mark–recapture population estimates were conducted after reproductive events during 2009 and 2010 resulting in estimates of 9,844 ± 1,698 (mean ± SD) and 3,974 ± 452 plains topminnow, respectively. Mean fish weight was used as an estimate of pond biomass, which was 28.4 kg/ha in 2009 and 44.9 kg/ha in 2010. Reproduction was first observed in 2008 and in each following year, and a strong year-class was produced in 2009, which suggested there were factors that limited reproduction in the other 2 years. Extensive culture may be an effective way to rear plains topminnow and related species. However, more research is needed to determine factors that affect year-class strength and production.Received April 25, 2011; accepted February 8, 2012
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Movement behaviors attributed to spawning, dispersal, or altered habitat availability are essential to the ecology of many lotic fishes and, although considerable research has described movements of sport fish, little is known about the movement patterns of nongame species. Streams and rivers, wherein plains topminnow Fundulus sciadicus are prevalent, occur in a nonequilibrium state in which habitat patches are sporadically created and lost due to hydrologic variability. This results in regular extirpation and need for recolonization of many plains fishes, including plains topminnow. Species persistence, therefore, is dependent on tolerances to fluctuating habitat conditions and life-history traits that allow dispersal over large areas. To better understand the regional distribution of plains topminnow, we monitored large-scale dispersal patterns and habitat use of two introduced populations in Nebraska. In 2011 and 2012, plains topminnow were marked using visible implanted elastomer (VIE) marks and released at the center of two 3000-m study reaches. Populations were sampled monthly from April to November in 2011 and April through September in 2012 to describe movement patterns and habitat use. Plains topminnow were highly mobile, consistently associated with select habitat features, and the estimated individual home range exceeded standard sampling reach distances by nearly four times. The movement of plains topminnow occurred at greater rates and to distances further than known for similar species. These large-scale movements likely help maintain connectivity among populations within stream drainages and facilitate recolonization of regularly extirpated habitat patches. In this context, species movement may be critical to the maintenance and potential recovery of populations of this and other rare lotic fishes.