Dec 6, 2021 - News

University of Arkansas catches smallmouth bass grant

Two unidentified varieties of smallmouth bass.
Two unidentified varieties of smallmouth bass. Photo courtesty of the University of Arkansas

Anglers seeking smallmouth bass may soon be able to identify where to locate specific species.

What's happening: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will provide University of Arkansas researchers $300,000 over four years to track varieties of smallmouth bass.

Why it matters: There are two native varieties, the Neosho and Ouachita, which are threatened by another variety introduced to the region, the Northern smallmouth bass.

  • Breeding has caused hybridization, which could result in extinctions.
  • Information collected will help AGFC decide where to focus its wildlife management efforts to conserve the native species.

Context: Fishing is one of Arkansas' top outdoor tourism attractions.

  • AGFC estimates more than 113,000 anglers travel to Arkansas every year, and each spends an average of $222 per day while in the Natural State.

Details: Researchers will track hybridization by examining specimens collected before the 1950s, from 1950 to 2005, and live specimens collected in the field.

  • After using DNA to help identify specific physical characteristics of each variety, researchers will create a digital database. It will be used much like facial recognition programs, to make tracking of native and hybrid varieties of smallmouth bass easier.
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