Term of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

James Roberts

Committee Member 1

Steve Vives

Committee Member 2

Johanne Lewis

Committee Member 3

Joel Fleming

Committee Member 3 Email

joel.fleming@dnr.ga.gov

Abstract

In the Savannah River, management of Striped Bass relies heavily on movement information collected over 40 years ago, prior to a largescale fishery collapse which prompted an interstate harvest moratorium as well as a long-term stock restoration program. From late 2013 to 2019, a telemetry project of Striped Bass in the Savannah River was conducted in order to determine seasonal habitat use and characterize migration of the population which has not yet fully rebounded from the collapse. Utilizing an array of stationary receiver stations throughout the Savannah River downstream of J. Strom Thurmond Dam, 28 adult Striped Bass were tracked over a large geographic area for up to 3 years each. Resulting telemetry data revealed that departures from the primary spawning area occur with higher variation and much earlier than previously understood. Locations of fish during the putative spawning period suggest spawning is occurring over a larger geographic area than presumed. Passage of fish through New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam was documented, likely enabled by high discharge, and signifies a potential for Augusta shoals to provide much-needed supplementary thermal-refuge habitat for this population. Finally, I observed six migration events from the Savannah River to other coastal rivers, involving three different tagged individuals. Five of these migration events corresponded to the spring spawning window, as evidenced by water-temperature profiles and egg surveys in the Ogeechee River. This strong evidence of spawning connectivity between coastal rivers calls into question the south Atlantic striped bass philopatry paradigm and highlights the need for further research into the extent of this connectivity, and potentially the reevaluation of current management strategies.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

Available for download on Thursday, June 24, 2021

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