WACO, Texas (March 7, 2013) - A genetic analysis by Baylor University biologists suggests that the stocking of Florida bass in Texas reservoirs impacts bass populations far beyond the actual stocking location.
The native largemouth bass has a long and nearly continuous stocking history in Texas. However, the Florida bass is widely considered a better sport fish because it grows to a greater size. Subsequently, stocking efforts in Texas reservoirs have transitioned from largemouth bass to Florida bass.
The Baylor researchers analyzed the genetic composition of 69 largemouth bass in nonstocked streams of central Texas. These results were compared to DNA from 27 largemouth bass and Florida bass specimens provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that represent stock lineages as well as wild fish from outside of the sampling region.
Their analyses found the presence of Florida bass DNA in bass at all sampling locations, including sites more than 50 miles upstream from the closest documented stocking location.
"This presence of Florida bass DNA at the sampling locations indicates that the influence of stocking reaches far beyond managed reservoirs," reported Patrick D. Danley, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of biology in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. "Although the stocking of non-native Florida bass in reservoirs may enhance fishing opportunities, it also has the ability to alter stream systems that are directly connected to stocked reservoirs."
Because of the methods used, the researchers could not determine if Florida bass migrated upstream or if the movement of their DNA was due to hybridization with native populations.
"At this time, we cannot determine whether our samples represent a hybridizing group of largemouth bass and Florida bass or two distinct co-occurring species," Danley said. "Further studies using nuclear markers would be useful for differentiating hybrids from pure lineages of Florida bass and largemouth bass and would shed light on the impacts of Florida bass stocking on native largemouth bass populations in central Texas," he said.
Additional researchers involved in the study include Ryan S. King, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, doctoral student Martin Husemann, and former doctoral student Jesse Ray.
The study was published in a recent issue of Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00028487.2012.690814
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit http://www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.
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