Variable Annual Reproductive Effort and Recruitment Of Florida Bass In SMALL Natural LAKES

Monday, September 9, 2013: 1:00 PM
Marriott Ballroom B (The Marriott Little Rock)
Stephanie L. Shaw , School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Mike Allen , School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Variability in reproductive effort has been noted for multiple Micropterus species including Smallmouth Bass M. dolomieu, Largemouth Bass M. salmoides, and Florida Bass M. floridanus. To date there is no clear relationship for spawner abundance and recruitment relationships for any black bass species. Our objectives were to a) estimate annual reproductive effort and nest survival rates of Florida Bass; and b) determine whether stock abundance or the number of successful nests effectively predicted annual recruit abundance (i.e., stock-recruit relationship).  Snorkel surveys were used to estimate reproductive effort (nests/spawner), nest survival rates, and recruit abundance (age-1) in four small (2.8 – 24.0 ha) private lakes in north central Florida from 2010 to 2013.  Mark-recapture population estimates were used to estimate adult bass abundance at each lake in each year.  Reproductive effort varied among lakes and across years. Three lakes showed relatively consistent reproductive effort across years albeit at different intensity (Picnic Lake 0.00 to 0.04 nests/spawner; Keys Pond 0.25 to 0.63 nests/spawner; Devils Hole Lake 0.84 to 3.73 nests/spawner).  Big Fish Lake showed the greatest annual variation in reproductive effort ranging from 1.16 nests/spawner in 2010 dropping to 0.05 nests/spawner in 2011 (median 0.21 nests/spawner 2013).  Among lakes the highest reproductive effort produced the greatest total numbers of recruits. Within lakes years with the highest reproductive effort did not produce the most recruits, and years with moderate or lower reproductive effort produced similar numbers or more total recruits compared to high spawning effort years. This would be indicative of a Ricker-type stock recruit relationship.  An understanding of variability in annual reproductive effort and nest survival may be important to understanding recruitment processes in bass populations.