American Eel Population Characteristics and Environmental Life History in the Mississipi River

Tuesday, August 19, 2014: 9:20 AM
207 (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Quinton Phelps , Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, Missouri Department of Conservation, Jackson, MO
Sara Tripp , Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, Missouri Department of Conservation, Jackson, MO
Gregory W. Whitledge , Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
American eels inhabit a broad spatial extent and because of this are subject to a host of deleterious anthropogenic influences. Specifically, commercial overharvest and habitat degradation (e.g., channelization, damming, and leveeing) in many locations has negatively influenced American eel populations.  Because of these aforementioned issues, American eel throughout their range may be in jeopardy and have recently received increased interest by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. However as it relates to the Mississippi River, the American eel population has not been thoroughly evaluated.  Due to the paucity of information, we examined baseline population demographics and environmental life history information in the Mississippi River.   During 2011-2014, we collected American eels under the auspices of the  Long Term Resource Monitoring Program , an element of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration—Environmental Management Program.  Based on these collections, we have determined that American eels in the Mississippi River exhibit a broad size and age distribution and time of freshwater Mississippi River entrance occurs early in life.  We believe the information provided in this study will further our understanding of American eel population in the Mississippi River and provide insight for future management efforts.