Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Science


Biological Sciences


College of Natural & Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Joesph N. Stoeckel

Second Committee Member

Dr. John R. Jackson

Third Committee Member

Dr. Jeffrey W. Quinn

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


Paddlefish Polyodon spathula are a valuable commercial species throughout much of their range including Lake Dardanelle, one of the most important commercial paddlefish fisheries in Arkansas. While fecundity, mortality, and age and growth of paddlefish stocks in Lake Dardanelle have been assessed previously, information on their movements, habitat utilization, and commercial harvest rates is lacking. To help fill this information gap, 39 paddlefish were tracked a minimum of once per month from October 2014 through September 2015. Habitat selection was determined for eight macrohabitat types and four bathymetric habitat types by comparing percent usage to percent availability. Four high-use (≥10%) and four moderate-use (4-10%) areas were identified. Paddlefish preferred deep pools and bays with relatively large tributaries. Median linear range was 1.9, 20.9, 1.2, and 9.7 km in winter, spring, summer, and fall, respectively. All seasonal differences were significant (all P < 0.020) except winter and summer (P = 0.486). As many as 14 individuals may have emigrated during a major flood event in the summer of 2015. Downstream emigration was confirmed for two individuals that were detected below Dardanelle Dam. Spawning runs were observed for nine paddlefish that likely spawned below Ozark Jeta-Taylor Dam when water temperatures were between 10 and 18 oC. Commercial fishing mortality on telemetered fish was 13% during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 commercial paddlefish seasons combined. Knowledge gained from this study will help managers maintain a viable and commercially productive paddlefish population in Lake Dardanelle.