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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Marine Sciences and Technology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2014

Month Degree Awarded

February

Keywords

striped bass, telemetry, accelerometers, catch-and-release, stress, ecology

Abstract

An investigation into the spatial ecology and effects of catch-and-release angling on the physiology and behavior of striped bass was conducted. Fine-scale behavior was assessed by tagging fish with acoustic transmitters equipped with pressure and tri-axial accelerometer sensors and tracking them within a fixed array (n=34 receivers) in a Massachusetts estuary. Activity space changed significantly over the course of the season and increased with water temperature. Striped bass most frequently exhibited low levels of locomotory activity representing 67% of total activity measurements, with occasional high activity and burst swimming, often within the upper 3 m of the water column. Depth distribution of striped bass remained shallower when temperatures peaked at over 21 oC. Diel vertical migration was present with shallowest depths observed during the day and greatest depths during high tide. To investigate catch-and-release consequences, 102 striped bass were angled and blood sampled between July and November 2011. A subsample of 35 striped bass (July n=11, August n=11, September n=13) were implanted with tri-axial acoustic accelerometers to assess relative behavior and survival post-release. Results from principle component analyses produced five factors describing 72.7% of the variance for blood physiology parameters, total length, and water temperature. Subsequently, only eigenvalues from PC1, with high loading for blood lactate, plasma sodium and chloride, and total length, were significantly correlated with fight time. Eight individual fish were detected within 12 hours of release and exhibited their greatest mean daily activity space estimate within that time (1.5 km2 ± 0.6, 50%; 5.6 km2 ± 2.2, 95%). Depth ranged from 0-6.15 m (1.89±1.3 m) and acceleration ranged from 0.095-3.51 ms-2 (0.95±0.33). In summary, no observed mortality suggests that fish were able to recover from the physical and physiological impacts of angling. This thesis has increased the understanding of striped bass ecology and will help promote future conservation and management initiatives for striped bass and facilitate additional research.

First Advisor

Andy J. Danylchuk

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