Biological Investigation of Flathead Catfish in the Cape Fear River

Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) were introduced into the Cape Fear River in 1966 when 11 adult specimens weighing in a total of 107 kg were released near Fayetteville, North Carolina. The population has expanded from this initial release and now inhabits a 201·km section of the Cape Fear River. Growth rates of flathead catfish during this expansion phase has exceeded rates of riverine populations as previously reported by other investigators. Fishes were found to be the dominant forage consumed by flathead catfish as measured by frequency of occurrence, total numbers and total weight Species from the families Ictaluridae, Centrarchidae and Clupeidae were the most frequently utilized. A comparison was made of fish population samples taken prior to the introduction of flathead catfish with samples collected during this study. This data comparison indicates that native ictalurid populations have declined, with the most severe decline being evident for native bullhead species.

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