University of Arkansas wins smallmouth bass scholarship

Two unidentified varieties of smallmouth bass. Photo courtesy of University of Arkansas

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

What is 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 is this important: There are two native varieties, the Neosho and the Ouachita, which are threatened by another variety introduced to the region, the northern smallmouth bass.

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

The context: Fishing is one of Arkansas’ top outdoor tourist attractions.

  • AGFC Estimates more than 113,000 anglers visit Arkansas each year, and each spends an average of $222 a day in the wild.

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

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