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Scale-dependent tradeoffs between habitat and time in explaining Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) movement

October 6, 2023

Ecological theory predicts that movement by riverine fishes at the population level is characterized by both stationary and mobile individuals together creating a leptokurtic distribution of movement distances. However, studies testing this theory typically ignore spatial heterogeneity in riverscapes, and the theory has not been tested using Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula), a species of growing interest among anglers and fisheries managers alike. We characterized movements and habitat associations of Alligator Gar in the Brazos River, Texas, at fine (every 2 h for 24 h) and coarse (every month for 16 months) spatiotemporal scales. We tested for the presence of leptokurtosis and relationships between movement distance, habitat dissimilarity, and time-at-large using multivariate and univariate statistical approaches. Dispersal by Alligator Gar revealed leptokurtosis at the coarse scale but not the fine scale. At the fine scale, mixed effects quantile regression revealed there was no relationship between habitat dissimilarity and dispersal distance, but dispersal was positively correlated with time. At the coarse scale, dispersal was positively correlated with increased habitat dissimilarity and time, but only for the most mobile individuals. Our work suggests that short-term movements by riverine Alligator Gar during warm seasons and at base flows increased with time but were unrelated to habitat, and long-term movements over an annual cycle during warm season flow pulses revealed highly mobile members of the population accessed distant and novel floodplain environments.

Publication Year 2023
Title Scale-dependent tradeoffs between habitat and time in explaining Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) movement
DOI 10.1007/s10641-023-01473-3
Authors Johnathan K. Ellard, Hayden C. Roberts, Daniel J. Daugherty, Paul B. Fleming, Matthew Ross Acre, Joshuah S. Perkin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Biology of Fishes
Index ID 70252519
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center