Telemetry is an extremely useful technique used to study movement patterns of fishes to gain insight into life history. This is especially important when dealing with species of conservation concern, such as the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula). Alligator gar, despite dwindling populations or presumed extirpation across much of its native range, have received minimal attention in the literature. This study sought to evaluate movement patterns of juvenile alligator gar reintroduced to a historic, now disconnected, floodplain of the Mississippi River. Nineteen alligator gar fitted with radio transmitters were stocked into Mingo National Wildlife Refuge during May 2007 and tracked for 1 y. Over the course of the evaluation, 34.9 (se = 5.1) locations per individual gar were recorded and three distinct movement patterns emerged. Thirteen alligator gar (Groups A and B) exhibited site fidelity throughout the study while five alligator gar (Group C) showed highly variable movement patterns; at times showing site fidelity, then exhibiting long-distance movements. When exhibiting site fidelity, alligator gar occupied small areas of Monopoly Marsh or Ditch 5 (Group A: 12.9 ± 6.0 ha, Group B: 4.8 ± 4.9 ha, Group C: 11.8 ± 8.0 ha). Our study demonstrated telemetry of juvenile alligator gar is feasible, various movement patterns (i.e., site fidelity or long-distance movement) exist, and future stockings of juvenile alligator gar are likely to show site fidelity to the area in which they are released.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics