Skip to main content

Bigmouth Buffalo

Bigmouth Buffalo
Photo | Alec Lackmann, NDSU

Research Revelations—Recent research at North Dakota State University (NDSU) has proven that bigmouth buffalo, a species native to North America, can live more than eight decades longer than previously thought.* The research team, led by Alec Lackmann, doctoral graduate research assistant in the NDSU Department of Biological Sciences, recently published their work about aging the fish.

The researchers used thin sections of otoliths, ear stones that lay down layers as fish age and form annular marks, collected from bigmouth buffalo from 12 populations in Minnesota. They validated ages using bomb radiocarbon dating, which tests for 14C carbon isotope produced by thermonuclear bomb testing in the 1950s and 1960s. The radiocarbon dating method shows time-specific markers in otoliths.

Using these methods, they found bigmouth buffalo can reach 112 years of age, which more than quadruples previously known longevity estimates, and makes it the oldest known freshwater teleost (a group of about 12,000 fish species). They report that prior to their findings on bigmouth buffalo, the oldest ages for freshwater teleosts were reported to be 73 years for freshwater drum and 62 years for arctic lake trout. Sturgeon, gar, paddlefish, and bowfin are taxonomically categorized in groups other than teleosts, and lake sturgeon are believed to live up to 150 years old.

Nearly 400 fish were aged in the study with five exceeding 100 years old. Nearly 200 fish were aged in their 80s or 90s. The researchers found many populations of bigmouth buffalo had 85 to 90 percent of the population comprised of individuals more than 80 years old, suggesting recruitment failure since dam construction the 1930s.


The researchers suggest that in light of the species’ revised life history, bigmouth buffalo require urgent attention. Dams are cited as a cause of recruitment failure for bigmouth buffalo because they can restrict access to spawning habitats and disrupt environmental signals that cue spawning. A further threat in Minnesota, they point out, is increased angling pressure since 2010, when nighttime bowfishing with artificial lights became legal. They conclude that the new life history evidence “points to a precautionary approach to the conservation of buffalo fishes in general,” in addition to other species with similar life-history traits.


*North Dakota State University. (2019, May 30). NDSU research proves area fish species lives beyond 100 years [Press release, https://www.ndsu.edu/news/view/detail/37752].



**Lackmann, A. R., A. H. Andrews, M. C. Butler, E. S. Bielak-Lackmann, and M. E. Clark. Bigmouth buffalo Ictobus cyprinellus sets freshwater teleost record as improved age analysis reveals centenarian longevity. Communications Biology | (2019)2:197 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-019-0452-0 | www.nature.com/commsbio.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Doug Stange joins Capt. Aron Kastern on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin where they go after whitefish on ice.

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.Questioning Fish Introductions Other Fish

Questioning Fish Introductions

Dr. Hal Schramm - July 06, 2020

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips are tasty and dress up nicely when served in a basket or on a plate with fresh fruit such as grapes and strawberries.Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe Fish Recipes

Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe

In-Fisherman

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power Accessories

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

OSG Editorial Staff - November 01, 2020

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more...

See More Trending Articles

More Carp

Grass Carp
To catch a grass carp, toss a salad. Throw in some cherry tomatoes, lettuce, celery, peaThose Other Fish: Grass Carp Carp

Those Other Fish: Grass Carp

Keith Sutton - October 29, 2012

Grass Carp To catch a grass carp, toss a salad. Throw in some cherry tomatoes, lettuce,...

Publisher Steve Hoffman and Kevin Morlock sight-fish for carp on the fly.Fly Fishing Carp Carp

Fly Fishing Carp

Jeff Simpson - May 01, 2012

Publisher Steve Hoffman and Kevin Morlock sight-fish for carp on the fly.



Carp fishing is gaining momentum in North America, not only from casual anglers who are happy toCatching Carp During Spring Carp

Catching Carp During Spring

In-Fisherman - May 02, 2016

Carp fishing is gaining momentum in North America, not only from casual anglers who are...

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options.10 Best Carp Baits Available Today Carp

10 Best Carp Baits Available Today

Dan Johnson

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

See More Carp

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now