Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Philip Lienesch (Director), Michael Collyer, Steve Huskey

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


White bass Morone chrysops are native to the Mississippi River and its tributaries. This range includes the Barren River in south central Kentucky. Over the last thirty years, the population of white bass in Barren River Lake, a reservoir of the Barren River, has been in decline. During that same time, two congeners of white bass have been introduced to the lake. Hybrid striped bass Morone chrysops × Morone saxatilis were introduced in 1979 and yellow bass Morone mississippiensis were first discovered in 2000. Due to the similar life histories and spawning strategies of all three Morone species, I hypothesized that the two introduced species are interfering with reproduction of the native white bass. In the springs of 2012 and 2013 I sampled fish from within a five kilometer stretch of Barren River upstream of the lake. I collected 144 white bass, 111 yellow bass and 29 hybrid striped bass. Detection of species at spawning sites was staggered with yellow bass and hybrid striped bass arriving after white bass but leading to a period of co-occurrence. White bass on the spawning sites appeared healthy: fecundity (75,200 to 741,150 eggs per female), mean gonadosomatic indices (peaked at 10.7% and 23.7% in sequential years), mean relative weight (93.8), and length at age (above the 50th percentile). Of the yellow bass stomachs examined, 21.6% contained fish eggs or larval fish. Based on arrival times and evidence of egg and larval fish predation, it is likely that yellow bass are directly impacting white bass spawning success through reproductive interference and the consumption of white bass offspring. Schoener’s index values revealed a significant degree of dietary overlap between white bass and yellow bass in larval fish, post larval fish, and arthropods (Cxy = 0.992,0.994, and 0.804, respectively), and between white bass and hybrid striped bass in arthropods (Cxy = 0.851). Information from this study may elucidate causes of the declining white bass population and aid in its management in Barren River Lake.


Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology