Implications of Long Distance Migrations On the Life History Strategies of Striped Mullet, Mugil Cephalus, in the Lower Arkansas River

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 8:20 AM
Pope (Statehouse Convention Center)
Garrett Grimes , Biology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
Lindsey Lewis , Ecological Services, U S Fish and Widlife Service, Conway, AR
Ginny Adams , Department of Biology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
S. Reid Adams , Biology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
The striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, is a cosmopolitan species of fish that can be found off the coastal waters of the United States, and has sometimes been labeled a catadromous species due to their migrations into brackish and freshwater.  In Arkansas, striped mullet have been labeled a curiosity due to their perceived low abundance; however, a large aggregation of striped mullet has been observed occurring in the lower Arkansas River.  Sampling using boat electrofishing occurred at monthly intervals from September 2012 through February 2013. Striped mullet in the area were found to be present (N=306, CPUE=0.9 fish/min) during all sampling events.  This observed abundance suggests a permanent population; however, catch rates varied drastically in monthly samples with highest catches occurring at the start of our sampling in the fall ( September n=185, CPUE=3.08 fish/min) and the lowest catch occurring during winter sampling (December n=21, CPUE=0.23 fish/min).   It is unknown why the striped mullet found in the lower Arkansas River have migrated such a large distance from saltwater, and what role the freshwater habitat has in their life history.  Investigations into this population are planned to continue throughout 2013, and will be compared to non-migratory populations found in Louisiana in order to determine potential differences in life history strategies.