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Spatial variability and macro‐scale drivers of growth for native and introduced Flathead Catfish populations

June 5, 2018

Quantifying spatial variability in fish growth and identifying large‐scale drivers of growth are fundamental to many conservation and management decisions. Although fish growth studies often focus on a single population, it is becoming increasingly clear that large‐scale studies are likely needed for addressing transboundary management needs. This is particularly true for species with high recreational value and for those with negative ecological consequences when introduced outside of their native range, such as the Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris. This study quantified growth variability of the Flathead Catfish across a large portion of its contemporary range to determine whether growth differences existed between habitat types (i.e., reservoirs and rivers) and between native and introduced populations. Additionally, we investigated whether growth parameters varied as a function of latitude and time since introduction (for introduced populations). Length‐at‐age data from 26 populations across 11 states in the USA were modeled using a Bayesian hierarchical von Bertalanffy growth model. Population‐specific growth trajectories revealed large variation in Flathead Catfish growth and relatively high uncertainty in growth parameters for some populations. Relatively high uncertainty was also evident when comparing populations and when quantifying large‐scale patterns. Growth parameters (Brody growth coefficient [K] and theoretical maximum average length [L]) were not different (based on overlapping 90% credible intervals) between habitat types or between native and introduced populations. For populations within the introduced range of Flathead Catfish, latitude was negatively correlated with K. For native populations, we estimated an 85% probability that L estimates were negatively correlated with latitude. Contrary to predictions, time since introduction was not correlated with growth parameters in introduced populations of Flathead Catfish. Results of this study suggest that Flathead Catfish growth patterns are likely shaped more strongly by finer‐scale processes (e.g., exploitation or prey abundances) as opposed to macro‐scale drivers.

Publication Year 2018
Title Spatial variability and macro‐scale drivers of growth for native and introduced Flathead Catfish populations
DOI 10.1002/tafs.10055
Authors Danielle L. Massie, Geoffrey Smith, Timothy F. Bonvechio, Aaron J. Bunch, David O. Lucchesi, Tyler Wagner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70197452
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown