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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Utility and Precision of Hard Structures Used To Estimate Age For Three Species of Lepisosteidae

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AUTHORS: Sarah Huck*, Illinois Natural History Survey; Solomon David, John G. Shedd Aquarium/University of Wisconsin-Madison; Jeffrey Stein, Illinois Natural History Survey

ABSTRACT: Gars (Lepisosteidae) are an ancient lineage of native fishes ranging throughout North America. Recreational angling for gars has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, yet fisheries managers lack a fundamental understanding of population dynamics. In Illinois, managers require basic information regarding size and age structure to effectively manage a sustainable recreational fishery that is dominated by consumptive harvest via bowfishing. Age data is essential to describe population parameters, however, there are few studies describing which hard structures are best used to estimate age of gars. Therefore, we collected longnose gar (n=38), shortnose gar (n=75), and spotted gar (n=80) from multiple Illinois watersheds to assess the precision and utility of otoliths, cleithra, pectoral fin rays, and branchiostegals for age estimation. We aim to determine usefulness of hard structures for each species of gar based on ease of collection, preparation for readability, and measures of precision between readers. From our study, we can recommend ideal hard structures to estimate population dynamics of gars to aid in development of sustainable management strategies in the face of currently unregulated harvest.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Emerald A