Population Characteristics of Black Bullhead Ameiurus melas in Two Small Oklahoma Close to Home Fishing Ponds

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Graham F. Montague
Michael D. Richardson
Olivia Knowles
Shelby E. Jeter
Douglas L. Zentner
Richard A. Snow


Black Bullheads have both native and introduced populations throughout North America and introduced populations in Europe. Research of Black Bullhead populations has increased in recent years due to their native and introduced ranges having potential detrimental effects on fish communities. Black Bullheads are common throughout Oklahoma and are found in many Close to Home Fishing Ponds (CTHFP), however research in these small impoundments is limited. Therefore, our objective was to estimate abundance and describe population characteristics for two Black Bullhead populations in two Oklahoma CTHFP. We sampled two CTHFP in El Reno, Oklahoma within Canadian County, Southern Hills North (SHN) and Southern Hills South (SHS) with tandem baited hoop nets in June of 2022. To estimate population size, we used the K-pass depletion method. Lapilli otoliths were extracted from fish from each pond, but age and growth statistical analysis were only completed for SHS due to insufficient numbers of fish prohibiting analysis. Black Bullheads from SHS had a fish density estimate of 810 fish/ha, slow growth, ages ranging from 2-7, relatively low mortality (Z = 0.39), and was dominated by stock-sized individuals. The SHN pond had a lower fish density estimate (110 fish/ha) than SHS, fish ages ranging from 1-7, and was dominated by quality-sized individuals. Additional research should focus on understanding angler dynamics, variables that attribute to overabundant populations, and variability of Black Bullhead growth in CTHFP to allow for more effective fisheries management of native and invasive populations.

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Applied Ecology & Conservation