Brookings Wildlife Federation to hear about walleye research at South Dakota State University

Logan Cutler, SDSU graduate student, will talk about his walleye research. (Courtesy photo)

BROOKINGS — The Brookings Wildlife Federation will host SDSU grad student Logan Cutler at its June infolunch at noon Friday at the Brookings County Outdoor Adventure Center, 2810 22nd Ave. S.

The infolunch is open to the public. A light lunch will be available for a free-will offering.

Cutler will talk about the importance of wetlands for walleye in Lake Kampeska.

Cutler said, “My research looks at walleye diets and fish movement in Lake Kampeska and connected wetlands. The goal was to evaluate wetlands as feeding areas for walleye and other fish.”

Cutler received a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.

He began his master’s program at SDSU in 2021, working with Alison Coulter, who is a member of the BWF.

Walleyes are lake or river fish that are predominately carnivores, eating fish, crustaceans, frogs and insects.

However, they are not picky eaters. There have been many walleye diet studies for fish in lakes, but many South Dakota lakes are also part of a wetland complex. All prairie pothole wetlands have important functions in a watershed, including runoff water and silt retention, ground water recharge, and habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

Bait fish dealers harvest fathead minnows from wetlands. Game, Fish and Parks fishery biologists stock walleye fry into wetlands to grow and later be captured and moved to lakes.

Cutler will talk about his walleye research at the infolunch.

SDSU studies by David Willis and students about 20 years ago focused on walleye stocked in isolated wetlands (no lake access).

They found that walleye reduced minnows (especially fathead minnows) and then the walleye diet shifted to aquatic invertebrates (bugs).

The research suggested that walleye in an isolated pothole could change the ecology of the pothole wetland through changes in the food web.

However, wetlands that are connected to lakes may have additional values related to the ecology of the lake and its aquatic life. This is the hypothesis that was tested by Cutler’s research.

The BWF is in its 43rd year of supplying conservation information and activities to the Brookings community. For more information, contact BWF President Bob Kurtz at 605-695-1361. The BWF’s 130-plus members are affiliated with the South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. The BWF, one of 16 affiliates of the SDWF, has been selected to host the 2023 convention of the state organization in Brookings in August.