Morone americana
Morone americana
(White Perch)
Fishes
Native Transplant
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Morone americana (Gmelin, 1789)

Common name: White Perch

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Woolcott (1962); Mansueti (1964); Smith (1985); Page and Burr (1991); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: 58 cm

Native Range: Atlantic Slope drainages from St. Lawrence-Lake Ontario drainage, Quebec, south to Pee Dee River, South Carolina (Page and Burr 1991). Populations in Lake Ontario drainage probably became established following construction of the Erie Canal. 

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Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This species has been recorded for Colorado (Everhart and Seaman 1971); Lake Michigan (Savitz et al. 1989; Mills et al. 1993), the Illinois River (Cochran and Hesse 1994; Burr et al. 1996; Irons 2002; Blodgett 1993), and the Mississippi River (Cochran and Hesse 1994; Rasmussen 1998), Illinois (Burr et al. 1996; Irons et al. 2002); Lake Michigan and several inland lakes, Indiana (Mills et al. 1993; R. Horner, personal communication; R. Robertson and D. Keller, personal communication); the Missouri River, Iowa (Hergenrader 1980; Bernstein 2001; Larson, personal communication); Hoover Pond in Kingman City Riverside Park, Cheney and Wilson reservoirs, and Browning Oxbow on the Missouri River, Kansas (Whitmore 1997; Rasmussen 1998; T. Mosher, personal communication; Goeckler, pers. comm.); inland lakes and ponds statewide except Aroostook County, Maine (Halliwell 2003); nonnative, inland waters of Massachusetts (Hartel 1992; Hartel et al. 1996; USFWS 2005); the Great Lakes, Michigan (Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993; Bowen, pers. comm.); Duluth Harbor, Lake Superior, Minnesota (Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993); Lake Contray in Buchanan County, Big Lake in Holt County, and the Missouri River in Carroll and Howard counties, in Missouri (Pflieger 1997); the Missouri River and the Platte River drainage in Nebraska (Hergenrader and Bliss 1971; Morris et al. 1974; Hergenrader 1980; Cross et al. 1986; Whitmore 1997; Rasmussen 1998) and Branched Oak Reservoir (Nebraska Parks and Game Commission); inland lakes in New Hampshire (Scarola 1973); Lake Champlain (Plosila and Nashett 1990; Good, personal communication) and the Great Lakes drainage, New York (Scott and Christie 1963; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Emery 1985; Smith 1985; Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993), including lakes Ontario and Erie, Oneida Lake, Cross Lake, and the Seneca River (Dence 1952); James, Norman, and Jordan reservoirs, North Carolina (Feiner et al. 2012); Lake Erie drainage and inland streams of Ohio (Busch et al. 1977; Trautman 1981; Smith 1985; Rasmussen 1998; Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993; Czypinski et al. 2001) and Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005); Kaw and Keystone reservoirs, Oklahoma (J. Boxrucker, pers. comm.); Lake Erie, Pennsylvania (Larsen 1954; Busch et al. 1977; Johnson and Evans 1990; Page and Burr 1991; Mills et al. 1993); Lake Champlain, Vermont (Plosila and Nashett 1990; Good, personal communication). Smith Mountain Lake and Kerr Reservoir, Virginia (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); the upper Potomac drainage, West Virginia (Cincotta, personal communication); and Lake Michigan at Green Bay, the St. Louis River estuary, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, and Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin (Savitz et al. 1989; Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993; Cochran and Hesse 1994; Czypinski et al. 2001; Associated Press 2003; Scheidegger, personal communication; USFWS 2005).

Collected in the Bay of Quinte (northeastern Lake Ontario), Ontario, Canada ( Scott 1963).

Means of Introduction: The first report of White Perch in the Great Lakes drainage was from Cross Lake, central New York, in 1950 (Dence 1952). The species apparently gained access to the lake via movement through the Erie Barge Canal in the 1930s and 1950s (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993). Scott and Christie (1963) stated that the White Perch most likely gained access to Lake Ontario via the Oswego River, as a result of spread of Hudson River populations northward and westward through the Mohawk River Valley and Erie Barge Canal. Once in Lake Ontario, it gained access to Lake Erie through the Welland Canal in 1953 and continued to spread to the upper Great Lakes (Johnson and Evans 1990; Mills et al. 1993). The first reports of westward movement through the Great Lakes are as follows: Lake Erie in 1953 (Larsen 1954), Lake St. Clair in 1977, Lake Huron in 1987 (Johnson and Evans 1990), Lake Michigan at Green Bay-Fox River, Wisconsin in May 1988 (Cochran and Hesse 1994), and Illinois waters of Lake Michigan off Chicago in September 1988 (Savitz et al. 1989). One oddity is that the first record from Lake Superior was in 1986 from Duluth Harbor-one year before the fish was found in Lake Huron, and two years before it was seen in Lake Michigan. The  Duluth Harbor population may be restricted to that location because  it is the warmest part of the lake. This population likely represents a separate introduction because it does not fit the pattern of western dispersal (Johnson and Evans 1990). In this case it is possible that the introduction occurred via ships' ballast water.

White Perch was brought from New Jersey to Nebraska in 1964, and fry produced that year in a hatchery were accidentally introduced into a reservoir that provided access to the Missouri River (Hergenrader and Bliss 1971). White Perch has been stocked intentionally in other areas for sportfishing. In Kansas, fish found at Browning Oxbow on the Missouri River are believed to have come from Nebraska. The species was not recorded from Missouri River in Missouri until the 1990s (Pflieger 1997). The source of the fish in the two Kansas reservoirs is a result of stock contamination from a striped bass stocking (Mosher, personal communication). White Perch were stocked in West Virginia in the early 1900s (Cincotta, personal communication) and are being illegally stocked by individuals in inland lakes in Indiana (R. Robertson and D. Keller, personal communication).

Status: Established in all five Great Lakes and their surrounding states, as well as in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Vermont. Current status in Colorado and Kansas is unknown. 

Impact of Introduction: Fish eggs are an important component of the diet of White Perch especially in the spring months. White Perch generally preys on eggs of Walleye Stizostedion vitreum vitreum, White Bass Morone chrysops, other species, and can cannabilize its own eggs (Schaeffer and Margraf 1987). Walleye or White Bass eggs can make up 100% of White Perch diet depending on which fish is spawning. During a three-year study, this diet was found to be unique in that: 1) eggs were eaten for a comparatively long time, 2) they were the only significant food item eaten by adults during two of the three years, 3) large volumes were eaten per individual, and 4) most fish were feeding. White Perch also feeds heavily on minnows Notropis spp. (Schaeffer and Margraf 1987). The collapse of the Walleye fishery in the Bay of Quinte (on the north shore of Lake Ontario) coincided with the increase in the White Perch population and may have been a result of egg predation and lack of recruitment (Schaeffer and Margraf 1987).

Bur and Klarer (1991) found that Morone americana has a large portion of its diet consisting of zooplankton in the central basin of Lake Erie. In comparison to available zooplankton, a disproportionately large amount was the invasive Bythotrephes cederstroemi (Bur and Klarer 1991).

Parrish and Margraf (1990) hypothesized that White Perch compete with native Yellow Perch Perca flavescens for zooplankton. They determined that growth rates of Yellow Perch had declined since the invasion of White Perch in Lake Erie, especially in the western basin. They also determined that the two species had considerable diet overlap and found one sample in which White Perch consumed 27 percent more food than Yellow Perch.

Parrish and Margraf (1994) speculated that competition between White Perch and forage fishes, such as Emerald Shiner Notropis atherinoides and Spottail Shiner N. hudsonius, may actually be more complex and may be responsible for the declines of the latter species. Decline of these species could also affect Walleye Stizostedion vitreum, the top predator in Lake Erie (Parrish and Margraf 1994).

Within three years after being introduced into a Nebraska reservoir, White Perch had completely replaced the previously dominant Black Bullhead Ameiurus melas. Species composition changed from 74 percent Black Bullhead to 70 percent White Perch in that timeframe (Hergenrader and Bliss 1971).

Feiner et al. (2013a, b) found significant overlap in trophic niche and resource use between White Perch and Walleye Sander vitreus, Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, Striped Bass M. saxatilis, and White Bass M. chryops in three lakes in North Carolina, suggesting the potential for resource competition.

Hybridization:

Invasion of the Great Lakes brought White Perch into sympatric distribution with White Bass, a closely related but previously allopatric species, allowing hybridization to occur. White Perch x White Bass hybrids have been reported in western Lake Erie, in Ohio and Michigan, and from the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers in Michigan (Todd 1986). Hybrids were first noted in western Lake Erie in the early 1980s, as White Perch were increasing in this region (Todd 1986). These hybrids probably occur in other Great Lakes because the two species are sympatric throughout the chain of lakes. However, Todd was not aware of any other locations with these hybrids, and his extensive surveys around Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario in the mid-1980s failed to find any (Todd, personal communication). Todd (1986) provided photographs of both parent species and the hybrid and gave characteristics of each. Because these hybrids are capable of backcrossing with the parental species, and possibly producing of F2 hybrids by crossing amongst themselves (Todd 1986), they dilute the gene pool of each parent species. The White Perch x White Bass hybrid is the first naturally occurring Morone hybrid known (Todd 1986). Hybrids of M. americana and M. mississippiensis were first found in 2000 in the middle Illinois River (Irons et al. 2002). Hybridization and competition may represent another threat to the already dwindling Yellow Bass of that region.

Remarks: Although the White Perch was found in the Missouri River in Missouri almost to the Missouri/Iowa state border (Pflieger 1997), as of March 1998, there are no known collections in the state of Iowa (M. Konrad, personal communication). 

Feiner et al. (2012) found life history differences (e.g., growth rate, reproductive investment) across introduced populations within three large reservoirs in North Carolina representing different stages of invasion, and suggest that this plasticity allows for increased success during establishment. Feiner et al. (2013a) found that populations in the North Carolina reservoirs occupied a wide trophic niche, and suggested that niche breadth likely also aides establishment success. Pothoven and Höök (2015) found overlap in standard diet assemblages of age-0 White Perch and White Bass in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, indicating that complete trophic separation was not a requirement for long-term stable coexistence.

References: (click for full references)

Associated Press. 2003. The first white perch on record shows up in Chequamegon Bay. Wisconsin State Journal. Madison.com. July 25, 2003: B5.

Boxrucker, J. pers. comm. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Norman, OK.

Brown, R.W., M. Ebener, and T. Gorenflo. 1999. Great Lakes commercial fisheries: historical overview and prognosis for the future. In Great Lakes Fisheries Policy and Management: A Binational Perspective. Taylor, W.W., and C.P. Ferreri (Eds.). Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI, pp. 307-354.

Bur, M.T., and D.M. Klarer. 1991. Prey selection for the exotic cladoceran Bythotrephes cederstroemi by selected Lake Erie fishes. Journal of Great Lakes Research 17(1):85-93.

Burr, B.M., D.J. Eisenhour, K.M. Cook, C.A. Taylor, G.L. Seegert, R.W. Sauer, and E.R. Atwood. 1996. Nonnative fishes in Illinois waters: What do the records reveal? Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 89(1/2):73-91.

Busch, W.N., D.H. Davies, and S.J. Nepszy. 1977. Establishment of white perch, Morone americana, in Lake Erie. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 34:1039-1041.

Cincotta, D. – West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Elkville.

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.

Cochran, P.A., and P.J. Hesse. 1994. Observations on the white perch (Morone americana) early in its invasion of Wisconsin. Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 82:23-58.

Couture, S. C. and M. C. Watzin. 2008. Diet of invasive adult white perch (Morone americana) and their effects on the zooplankton community in Missisquoi Bay, Lake Champlain. Journal of Great Lakes Research 34(3):485-494.

Cross, F.B., R.L. Mayden, and J.D. Stewart. 1986. Fishes in the western Mississippi drainage. Pages 363-412 in C. H. Hocutt, and E. O. Wiley, editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Czypinski, G.D., A.K. Bowen, M.T. Weimer, A. Dextrase. 2001. Surveillance for ruffe in the Great Lakes, 2001. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ashland, WI. 36 pp.

Dann, S.L., and B.C. Schroeder. 2003. The Life of the Lakes: A Guide to the Great Lakes Fishery. Michigan Sea Grant, 56 pp.

Dence, W.A. 1952. Establishment of white perch, Morone americana, in central New York. Copeia 1952(3):200-201.

Emery, L. 1985. Review of fish introduced into the Great Lakes, 1819-1974. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Technical Report, volume 45. 31 pp.

Everhart, W.H., and W.R. Seaman. 1971. Fishes of Colorado. Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Division, Denver, CO.

Feiner, Z.S., D.D. Aday, and J.A. Rice. 2012. Phenotypic shifts in white perch life history strategy across stages of invasion. Biological Invasions 14(11):2315-2329.

Feiner, Z.S., J.A. Rice, and D.D. Aday. 2013. Trophic niche of invasive white perch and potential interactions with representative reservoir species. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142(3):628-641. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2013.763854

Feiner, Z.S., J.A. Rice, A.J. Bunch, and D.D. Aday. 2013. Trophic niche and diet overlap between invasive White Perch and resident White Bass in a southeastern reservoir. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142(4):912-919. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2013.788563.

GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Good, S. - Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pittsford, VT.

Halliwell, D.B. 2003. Introduced Fish in Maine. MABP series: Focus on Freshwater Biodiversity.

Hartel, K.E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

Hergenrader, G.L., and Q.P. Bliss. 1971. The white perch in Nebraska. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 100(4):734-738.

Horner, R. - Fish Pathology and Aquaculture Coordinator, State of Illinois, Manito, IL. Response to NBS-G nonindigenous questionnaire. 1992.

International Joint Commission. 2011. 2009-2011 Priority Cycle Report on Binational Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response.  Prepared by the Binational Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Work Group for the International Joint Commission. Canada and the United States.

Irons, K.S., T.M. O'Hara, M.A. McClelland, and M.A. Pegg. 2002. White perch occurrence, spread, and hybridization in the middle Illinois River, upper Mississippi River system. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 95(3):207-214.

Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Johnson, T.B., and D.O. Evans. 1990. Size-dependent winter mortality of young-of-the-year white perch: climate warming and invasion of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 119:301-313.

Konrad, M. – Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Des Moines.

Larsen, L. 1954. First record of the white perch (Morone americana) in Lake Erie. Copeia 1954(2):154.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Madenjian, C.P., R.L. Knight, M.T. Bur, and J.L. Forney. 2000. Reduction in recruitment of white bass in Lake Erie after invasion of white perch. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 129(6):1340-1353.

Mansueti, R.J. 1964. Eggs, larvae, and young of the white perch, Roccus americanus, with comments on its ecology in the estuary. Chesapeake Science 5(1-2):3-45.

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.

Morris, J., L. Morris, and L. Witt. 1974. The fishes of Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, NE.

Mosher, T. – Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Emporia, KS.

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.

Parrish, D.L., and F.J. Margraf. 1990. Interactions between white perch (Morone americana) and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in Lake Erie as determined from feeding and growth. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 47(9):1779-1787.

Parrish, D.L., and F.J. Margraf. 1994. Spatial and temporal patterns of food use by white perch and yellow perch in Lake Erie. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 9(1):29-35.

Pflieger, W.L. 1997. The fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.

Plosila, D.S., and L.J. Nashett. 1990. First reported occurrence of white perch in Lake Champlain. New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries. Albany, NY.

Pothoven, S.A., and T.O. Höök. 2015. Feeding ecology of invasive age-0 white perch and native white bass after two decades of co-existence in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. Aquatic Invasions 10(3):347-357. http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/ai.2015.10.3.10

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998. Cincinnati, OH.

Savitz, J., C. Aiello, and L.G. Bardygula. 1989. The first record of the white perch (Morone americana) in Illinois waters of Lake Michigan. Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science 82(1&2):57-58.

Scarola, J.F. 1973. Freshwater fishes of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Division of Inland and Marine Fisheries.

Schaeffer, J.S., and F.J. Margraf. 1987. Predation on fish eggs by white perch, Morone americana, in western Lake Erie. Environmental Biology of Fishes 18(1):77-80.

Scheidegger, K. - Bureau of Fisheries Management, Madison, WI. Response to NBS-G non-indigenous questionnaire. 1992.

Scott, W.B., and W.J. Christie. 1963. The invasion of the lower Great Lakes by white perch, Roccus americanus (Gmelin). Journal of  Fisheries Research Board of Canada 20(5):1189-1195.

Scott, W.B., and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Smith, C.L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York state. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

Smith, M.R. 2002. White Perch Management Plan. Maine Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Division of Fisheries and Hatcheries.

Stapanian, M.A., M.T. Bur, and J.V. Adams. 2007. Temporal trends of young-of-year fishes in Lake Erie and comparison of diel sampling periods. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 129(1-3):169-178.

Todd, T. – Great Lakes Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Todd, T.N. 1986. Occurrence of white bass-white perch hybrids in Lake Erie. Copeia 1986(1):196-199.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.

Whitmore, S. 1997. Aquatic nuisance species in Region 6 of the Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Plains Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance Office, Pierre, SD.

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FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P., E. Maynard, D. Raikow, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, and M. Neilson

Revision Date: 1/15/2016

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., E. Maynard, D. Raikow, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, and M. Neilson, 2018, Morone americana (Gmelin, 1789): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=777, Revision Date: 1/15/2016, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 2/23/2018

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [2/23/2018].

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