Improving Littoral Habitat in Texas Reservoirs: A Collaboration of Management, Research, and Public Partners

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 9:40 AM
Izard (Statehouse Convention Center)
Todd Driscoll , Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Brookeland, TX
Daniel Daugherty , Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Mountain Home, TX
The quality and diversity of reservoir fish habitats are declining throughout the U.S. due to anthropogenic effects, large woody debris decay, sedimentation, and changing hydrology.  Fisheries managers often devote substantial effort to improving habitat by introducing structure to reservoir littoral zones.  Common goals are to improve fish survival, growth, recruitment, and angler catch; however, the ability of added structure to achieve these goals is influenced by a number of factors, and best management practices is lacking.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department management and research biologists, in collaboration with nine project partners (including three Friends of Reservoirs chapters), are evaluating reservoir habitat enhancement efforts in Texas reservoirs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of these projects.  Physical characteristics of structures, including structure size, shape, and material density and composition (both natural and artificial materials), as well as spatiotemporal factors including geographic location of placement within the reservoir and variations in diel and seasonal use by fishes will be measured and compared with fish diversity, abundance, and size structure metrics.  Results-to-date using natural brush indicate the physical properties of added structure, as well as the spatiotemporal factors examined, significantly affect the abundance and size structure of fishes utilizing these habitats.  These results are providing guidance to best design additional fish attractor research using two types of artificial materials (polyvinyl chloride and industrial plastic mesh).  All results will be applied using an adaptive management approach to guide future reservoir habitat improvement efforts.