The North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute was founded in 1965 by authority of Congress as one of the 54 Institutes throughout the nation and is administered through the United States Geological Survey. The Institute's office is located in the College of Engineering of North Dakota State University (NDSU), the land grant university of the State.
The Institute promotes the education and training of water resources research professionals through its fellowship program.
Understanding the age structure and population dynamics of harvested species is crucial for sustainability, especially in fisheries. The Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) is a fish endemic to the Mississippi and Hudson Bay drainages. A valued food-fish for centuries, they are now a prized sportfish as night bowfishing has become a million-dollar industry in the past decade. All harvest is virtually unregulated and unstudied, and Bigmouth Buffalo are declining while little is known about their biology. Using thin-sectioned otoliths and bomb-radiocarbon dating, we find Bigmouth Buffalo can reach 112 years of age, more than quadrupling previous longevity estimates, making this the oldest known freshwater teleost (~12,000 species). We document numerous populations that are comprised largely (85–90%) of individuals over 80 years old, suggesting long-term recruitment failure since dam construction in the 1930s. Our findings indicate Bigmouth Buffalo require urgent attention, while other understudied fishes may be threatened by similar ecological neglect.