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|Fedele, A.D. 2017. Influences of Catch-and-Release Angling on Fish Avoidance Behavior. (M.S. thesis). University of Nebraska. Online|
- Presentation Type: Thesis Defense
- Date: 4/6/2017
Complex interactions exist between ecological and sociological systems but can be difficult to assess. Newly opened recreational fisheries provide the opportunity to explore direct social effects on naive (i.e., previously unexploited by anglers) population of fish. We examine the influence of angling on wild fish populations, and aim to identify the behavioral outcomes in fish resulting from angling through laboratory experiments. We assessed the short-term (30-d) response of fish populations to recreational angling at two newly opened reservoirs in Nebraska. At one reservoir, we noted declining catch rates in catch-and-release-regulated fish but not in harvest-regulated fish. We hypothesized that caught-and-released fish were given the opportunity to alter behavior, whereas harvested fish were presumably removed from the waterbody after capture with no opportunity to alter behavior. However, this was not observed in both reservoirs, thus further investigation was warranted into the ability of fish to alter behavior to avoid recapture in a controlled environment. In the laboratory, we evaluated whether behavioral types (i.e., bold and shy) in fish affect the ability to learn to avoid subsequent recapture. We observed that both shy and bold individuals had a decreased probability of capture over the seven-day experiment. Bolder individuals exhibited a greater probability of capture across gear types (control, hook, lure) compared to shyer individuals. Ration level appeared to have little influence on the probability of capture. Fish exposed to lures exhibited lower probability of capture than the hook and sham hook treatments across behavioral types. The learned avoidance of capture has strong implications for fishing-induced evolution, efficacy of management regulations, and satisfaction of anglers.
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