Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Vermont
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Chellman, I.C., D.L. Parrish, and T.M. Donovan. 2017. Estimating population demographic parameters for the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) in Vermont. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 12(2):422-434.


The Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) is classified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the state of Vermont. There is concern regarding status of populations in the Lake Champlain basin because of habitat alteration and potential effects of 3-trifluromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM), a chemical used to control Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). The purpose of our research was to assess Mudpuppy capture methods and abundance in the Lamoille River, Vermont, USA. We sampled Mudpuppies under a mark-recapture framework, using modified, baited minnow traps set during two winter-spring periods. We marked each Mudpuppy with a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag and released individuals after collecting morphological measurements. We collected 80 individuals during 2,581 trap days in 2008–2009 (year 1), and 81 individuals during 3,072 trap days in 2009–2010 (year 2). We estimated abundance from spring trapping periods in 2009 and 2010, during which capture rates were sufficient for analysis. Capture probability was low (< 0.04), but highest following precipitation events in spring, during periods of higher river flow, when water temperatures were approximately 3 to 6° C. During October 2009, management agencies treated the Lamoille River with TFM. Surveyors recovered more than 500 dead Mudpuppies during the post-treatment assessment. Overall, Mudpuppy captures did not change between sampling periods; however, we captured fewer females during year 1 compared to year 2, and the sex ratio changed from 0.79:1 (M:F) during year 1 to 3:1 (M:F) during year 2. Our data may help wildlife managers assess population status of Mudpuppies in conjunction with fisheries management techniques.