Ecology: The fourspine stickleback can be found in fresh and brackish water from 0 to 3 m deep. Adults inhabit weedy bays and backwaters (Delbeek and Williams, 1988).
Apeltes quadracus often live sympatrically with other species of stickleback throughout their native range, though they are generally solitary with regard to other members of their own species. Individuals are often observed perched among bottom debris and vegetation, never in open water, hovering over a patch of substrate, picking at it frequently, then moving on to another patch (Delbeek and Williams 1987). Delbeek and Williams (1987) also found that fourspine stickleback fed exclusively on the bottom, wither among benthic vegetation or from the substrate, the most abundant organisms in their diets being diatoms, nauplii, nematodes, ostracods, and cyclopods. During spawning, the males of this species establish territories and build small nests in which females lay their eggs (Courtenay 1985). Them male then chases the female away and cares for the eggs until they hatch. Courtenay (1985) also found that, unlike other stickleback species, male Apeltes tend multiple nests at one time in both laboratory and natural breeding site observations. Fourspine stickleback also has the widest range of salinity tolerance of any North American species of stickleback (Holm and Hamilton 1988).
Means of Introduction: Shipping and ballast water (USEPA 2008). Denoncourt et al. (1975) were uncertain if the Susquehanna populations of this species, and that of several other additions to the drainage, represented natural occurrences or were the result of accidental introductions.
Bait shops in Alabama were found to be selling stickleback mixed in with fathead minnows at the time the specimens were collected (N. Nichols, pers. comm.).
References: (click for full references)
Boogaard, M.A., T.D. Bills, and D.A. Johnson. 2003. Acute toxicity of TFM and a TFM/niclosamide mixture to selected species of fish, including lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens
) and Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus
), in Laboratory and Field Exposures. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1):529-541.
Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.
Courtenay, S.C. 1985. Simultaneous multinesting by the fourspine stickleback, Apeltes quadracus. Canadian Field-Naturalist 99(3): 360-363.
Denoncourt, R.F., C.H. Hocutt, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1975. Additions to the Pennsylvania ichthyofauna of the Susquehanna River drainage. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 127(9):67-69.
Delbeek, J.C., and D.D. Williams. 1987. Food resource partitioning between sympatric populations of brackishwater sticklebacks. The Journal of Animal Ecology, 56(3): 949-967.
GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Holm, E., and J.G. Hamilton. 1988. Range extension for the fourspine stickleback, Apeltes quadracus, to Thunder Bay, Lake Superior. Canadian Field-Naturalist 102:653-656.
Marking, L.L. and T.D. Bills. 1985. Effects of contaminants on toxicity of the lampricides TFM and Bayer 73 to three species of fish. Journal of Great Lakes Research 11(2):171-178.
Mills, E.L., J.H. Leach, J.T. Carlton, and C.L. Secor. 1993. Exotic species in the Great Lakes: a history of biotic crisis and anthropogenic introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1):1-54.
Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.
Robins, C.R., G.C. Ray, and J. Douglass. 1986. A field guide to Atlantic Coast fishes of North America. The Peterson Guide Series, volume 32. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.
Scott, W.B., and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Bulletin 184. 966 pp.
Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. 522 pp.
Stephenson, S.A., and W.T. Momot. 2000. Threespine, Gasterosteus aculeatus, and fourspine, Apeltes quadracus, sticklebacks in the Lake Superior Basin. Canadian Field-Naturalist 114(2): 211-216.
Stiles, E.W. 1978. Vertebrates of New Jersey. Edmund W. Stiles, Somerset, NJ.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2008. Predicting future introductions of nonindigenous species to the Great Lakes. EPA/600/R-08/066F. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC, 138 pp. http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190305
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.