Striped Bass Brood Stock Management in Texas: Planning for the Future

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) were first introduced into inland waters of Texas in 1967. Since that initial introduction, 44 inland waters within the state have been stocked with over 120,000,000 striped bass and the species has become the fourth most popular sport fish among anglers. Although successful striped bass fisheries have been established in numerous Texas reservoirs, there are few self-sustaining populations, and maintenance of the fisheries is dependent upon hatchery stocking programs. The high fecundity of striped bass renders the species vulnerable to genetic drift and inbreeding since hatcheries may meet production quotas with relatively few brood fish. Even when large numbers of brood fish are used, offspring typically are reared and distributed in a manner that may limit the effective population size (Ne) of fisheries created and maintained through hatchery stockings. In 2005, a sample of 56 brood fish collected from the Trinity River below Livingston Reservoir, which serves as the primary source of hatchery brood fish, was evaluated at nine microsatellite loci. This sample demonstrated a lower mean heterozygosity (0.428) than those reported elsewhere for striped bass (typically > 0.500) and an estimated Ne depressed from the sample size to 34.8. These findings prompted a revised stocking plan designed to increase genetic diversity for long-term maintenance of this important population.

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