Life History of Juvenile Alligator Gar (Atractosteus Spatula) in Oklahoma
Snow, Richard Alan
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Daily ring formation has been validated for a variety of fish species, but there is little known information or data on ageing young of year Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula). Artificially spawned Alligator Gar fry with a known spawn date, hatch date, and swim-up date were stocked into two ponds at Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery and reared from 9 to 91 days post-hatch. Up to 10 individuals were sampled each week, and age in days was estimated from counts of presumptive daily rings in the otoliths (sagittae, lapilli, and astericsi). Mean daily ring count and known age were closely related to swim-up (sagitta r� = 0.98, lapillus r� = 0.99, asteriscus r� = 0.93) indicating that daily ring deposition occurred in the otoliths of Alligator Gar 2 days after swim-up. Daily increment counts were accurate through 73 (sagitta), 86 (lapillus), however accuracy for asteriscus was very low throughout 86 days from swim-up. Age-bias plot for the lapillus visually showed no bias between readers. The resulting regression of ring counts against known age (age = -0.96 + 1.03*estimated age) was applied to wild caught Alligator Gar collected in the summer of 2013 from Lake Texoma, Oklahoma, to estimate spawn dates. Spawn dates seem to coincide with rising pool elevation of Lake Texoma and water pulses of tributaries.
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