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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Tuesday, October 18 • 11:40am - 12:00pm
Fisheries. Reproductive Ecology of Alligator Gar: Identification of Environmental Drivers of Recruitment Success

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AUTHORS: David L. Buckmeier, Nathan G. Smith, Daniel J. Daugherty, *Daniel L. Bennett - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: Observations of alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) spawning events indicate that recruitment may be linked to spring and summer flood pulses. However, because data have not typically come from formal experimentation, it is unknown to what degree these data represent true requirements for successful recruitment. We collected and reviewed existing data regarding alligator gar spawning and early development to draft habitat suitability criteria related to recruitment success and then tested these criteria against historic annual recruitment variability (i.e., year class strength) in the Trinity River and Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas. Habitat suitability criteria were identified for water temperature (20 to 30°C), hydrology (inundation of floodplain habitats to a depth of at least 1 m for a minimum of 5 d), and spawning habitat characteristics (open canopy with herbaceous or small woody vegetation within 0.5 m of the water surface where there is little or no flow). In general, in both systems we found that alligator gar recruitment variability corresponded closely with the historic availability of suitable environmental conditions based on our proposed habitat suitability criteria. Alligator gar recruitment was highly variable with above average recruitment occurring in about 30% of the years. These years accounted for 75 – 86% of the age sample and the strongest two year classes in each system comprised about half of the population. While additional research is needed to refine these habitat suitability criteria, our study verifies a link between alligator gar recruitment success and the availability of floodplain spawning habitats in the spring and summer.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
Riverview A

Attendees (6)