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Monday, January 25 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Commercial Harvest and Population Demographics of Smallmouth Buffalo In The Middle Mississippi River

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AUTHORS: Seth Love*, Southeast Missouri State University; Sara Tripp, Missouri Department of Conservation; Quinton Phelps, Missouri Department of Conservation

ABSTRACT: Smallmouth buffalo Ictiobus bubalus are a commercially harvested warmwater fish species found within many Midwestern rivers and lakes; however, minimal scientific information exists. The objectives of this study were to assess historic commercial harvest data, determine current demographics, and evaluate the sustainability of the smallmouth buffalo population. To carry out this study, we evaluated existing commercial harvest data collected by the Missouri Department of Conservation. In order to acquire baseline population demographic data on this commercially important fish species, we collected data (e.g., length and age) from 113 specimens caught within the Middle Mississippi River. Overall, trends in buffalofish commercial harvest data ranged from 8.36 to 129.19 t/year between 1945-2015. In terms of demographics, we collected a broad size distribution with total lengths between 250 and 801 mm (M = 622.3, SE = 7.22) and lapilli otolith age estimates ranged from 5 to 39 years old (M = 19.0, SE = 0.686). Using age information, total annual mortality was estimated at 10.1%. Furthermore, our simulation modeling suggests that the smallmouth buffalo population is sustainable under the current low levels of commercial harvest. To this end, baseline knowledge generated during this study has provided potential insight into managing this commercially important species in the Middle Mississippi River.

Monday January 25, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am EST