A Tale of Two Fishes: Using Recreational Angler Records to Examine the Link Between Fish Catches and Floodplain Connections in a Subtropical Coastal River
In the tropical and subtropical wet and dry regions, maintaining natural hydrologic connections between coastal rivers and adjacent ephemeral wetlands is critical to conserving and sustaining high levels of fisheries production within these systems. Though there is a consensus that there is a need to maintain these natural connections, little is known about what attributes of floodplain inundation regimes are most important in sustaining fisheries production. Two attributes of the flood season and thus floodplain inundation that may be particularly influential to fisheries are the amplitude of the flood season (floodplain water depth and spatial extent of inundation) and the duration of the flood season (i.e., time floodplains are inundated). In mangrove-dominated Everglades coastal rivers, seasonal inundation of upstream marsh floodplains may play an important role in provisioning recreational fisheries; however, this relationship remains unknown. Using two Everglades coastal river fisheries as a model, we tested whether the amplitude of the flood season or the duration of the flood season is more important in explaining variation in angler catch records of common snook and largemouth bass collected from 1992 to 2012. We validated angler catches with fisheries-independent electrofishing conducted in the same region from 2004 to 2012. Our results showed (1) that bass angler catches tracked electrofishing catches, while snook catches were completely mismatched. And (2) that previous year's marsh dynamics, particularly the duration of the flood season, was more influential than the flood season amplitude in explaining variation in bass catches, such that bass angler catches were negatively correlated to the period time that floodplains remained disconnected from coastal rivers in the previous year, while snook catches were not very well explained by floodplain inundation terms.
Boucek, R., J.S. Rehage. 2013. A Tale of Two Fishes: Using Recreational Angler Records to Examine the Link Between Fish Catches and Floodplain Connections in a Subtropical Coastal River. Estuaries and Coasts DOI: 10.1007/s12237-013-9710-4