Gars (Lepisosteidae) are an ancient lineage of native fishes ranging throughout North America. Recreational angling for gars has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, yet fisheries managers lack a fundamental understanding of population dynamics. In Illinois, managers require basic information regarding size and age structure to effectively manage a sustainable recreational fishery that is dominated by consumptive harvest via bowfishing. Age data is essential to describe population parameters, however, there are few studies describing which hard structures are best used to estimate age of gars. Therefore, we collected longnose gar (n=38), shortnose gar (n=75), and spotted gar (n=80) from multiple Illinois watersheds to assess the precision and utility of otoliths, cleithra, pectoral fin rays, and branchiostegals for age estimation. We aim to determine usefulness of hard structures for each species of gar based on ease of collection, preparation for readability, and measures of precision between readers. From our study, we can recommend ideal hard structures to estimate population dynamics of gars to aid in development of sustainable management strategies in the face of currently unregulated harvest.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Great Waters, Great Lands, Great Responsibilities: 76th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference, 24-27 January 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|State||Published - 2016|