Evaluating the Genetic Response Following Introduction of Florida Largemouth Bass into Two Large Arkansas Reservoirs

The Florida largemouth bass (FLMB; Micropterus salmoides floridanus) is widely stocked throughout the southeastern United States with the intent of increasing the size potential of resident northern largemouth bass (NLMB; M. s. salmoides) populations. During the early 2000s the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission initiated an eight-year FLMB stocking program on selected reaches of DeGray Lake and Lake Ouachita in an effort to sat- isfy angler preferences. The goal of this stocking program was to achieve 40% of sampled largemouth bass in each introduction zone possessing FLMB alleles by the end of the program. To assess this, fin clips were removed from hundreds of largemouth bass collected both within the stocking area as well as three areas distant from the stocking area of each reservoir. Fin clip samples were collected before, during, and after the stocking program and microsatellite analysis was used to evaluate temporal trends in the percent contribution of FLMB and F1 hybrids as well as the overall shift in genetic composition. Both reservoirs met the a priori standard of success after five years of stocking in Lake Ouachita and seven years in DeGray Lake. How- ever, the majority of fish collected near stocking sites at the end of this study contained relatively low levels of FLMB alleles (q range = 0.649 to 0.886) and very few F1 or FLMB were collected during the study. Therefore, we suspect that these fish contributed little to angler catch in these systems. This stocking was successful in creating high abundances of FX-NLMB, but future work is needed to know if these individuals enhance the population size structure or improve angler satisfaction.

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