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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

INFLUENCE OF INTRODUCTION OF ALABAMA BASS MICROPTERUS HENSHALLI ON BLACK BASS GROWTH RATES IN NORTH GEORGIA RESERVOIRS**

Abstract

Spotted bass, Micropterus punctatus, were introduced into multiple reservoirs in the southeastern United States, including deep highland reservoirs of north Georgia, and represent the most abundant black bass species in most of these reservoirs. However, the quality of the fishery can vary substantially among reservoirs, most likely because introductions may have included consisted of the morphologically similar black bass species, the Alabama bass Micropterus henshalli, that is known to grow faster and attain larger sizes. This study compared the growth of black bass populations among Chatuge, Nottely, and Lanier Reservoirs. It is hypothesized that differences between populations might occur due to a mixed introduction of Alabama bass and spotted bass among reservoirs. Data were collected from each reservoir during spring electrofishing surveys by Georgia DNR biologists. Otoliths were removed, processed, and analyzed for annual growth. Tissue samples were analyzed for allele composition. Mean growth rates of populations differed between reservoirs and appear to be related to the observed frequency of Alabama bass alleles in the population. Ranges of Alabama bass allele frequencies in the reservoir with the slowest growth (Nottely Reservoir) were 30.3–87.5 with no pure Alabama bass present whereas Chatuge reservoir, which had a significantly (P<0.05) faster growth rate, had a frequency of 85.7–99.8 with 88.9% pure Alabama bass. Lanier data is still being processed. Thus, historical stockings of M. punctatus and M. henshalli may influence current fisheries due to a reservoir’s genetic legacy, impacting growth and maximum size. Data analysis is ongoing, and research is in progress.

Acknowledgements

YHC Dept of Biology; Georgia Dept of Natural Resources

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