Status assessment of a shoal bass population in the lower Flint River, Georgia
Taylor, Andrew Thomas
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The shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae) is a popular sport fish endemic to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The species is in continual decline throughout its range, probably because of the negative effects of dams, non-native black basses (Micropterus spp.), and angling mortality. In this thesis, I present a thorough species review as well as two research chapters addressing the status and threats of a shoal bass population in the lower Flint River, Georgia. I estimated adult abundance within a spawning aggregation and also discovered that ~12% of sampled shoal bass were hybrids with non-native black basses. Mortality of shoal bass translocated during summer fishing tournaments seems relatively high (~33%), but population-level effects remain unclear. I concluded that the study population is facing several threats; therefore, diligent management of the fishery is warranted. Furthermore, similar status assessments are needed throughout the species range to inform future management and conservation efforts.