Angling for Dinosaurs!

We are planning a new symposium focusing on the ecology, conservation, and management of Holostean Fishes (Gars and Bowfin) for the 2016 American Fisheries Society conference in Kansas City, Missouri! Please share with those who may be interested, and see contact info below if you have questions/comments. More information coming soon!

Gar Bowfin Bass Banner 1a

Angling for Dinosaurs: Status and Future Study of the Ecology, Conservation and Management of Ancient Fishes

A special symposium is planned for the 146th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Kansas City, Missouri in August 2016.  This symposium will focus on the biology, ecology, life history, conservation and management of Holostean Fishes (Bowfin and gar species). As anglers’ perceptions of these ancient fishes begin to transform from “rough fish” to “sport fish,” the need for a better understanding of the ecology and conservation status of these species is fundamental to effective management. We intend to highlight past and current research by including presentations related to:

  • Biology/ecology/life history
  • Age and growth evaluations
  • Population genetics & evolutionary perspectives
  • Sampling methodologies
  • Management evaluations
  • Hybridization
  • Human dimensions

If you manage or are conducting research related to Holostean fisheries, please consider participating in this special symposium. The organizers are planning some type of proceedings or special journal issue where presenters can publish their work if they wish, but the final decision will be based on input from participants.  If you have information you’d like to share that would advance our understanding of Ancient Fishes, please contact the organizers for more information.

The organizers are also seeking potential sponsors for this event.  If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring the symposium, please contact the organizers.

Organizers:

Dr. Solomon R. David1,3, Sarah Huck2,4, Dr. Jeffrey A. Stein2,4

1Shedd Aquarium
2Illinois Natural History Survey
3U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center
4University of Illinois

PDF of announcement: AFS 2016 – Gar Bowfin Symposium Announcement FINAL

Follow @PrimitiveFishes & @SFEL_Stein for more updates and information!

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-Phase 3, 4, and 5: formalin, dry, instaGARm–

Apologies for the lack of updates on this project and many others, things have been quite hectic over the past couple months with new research projects, a job transition, and more.  Here is the semi-final stage of the alligator gar head project, and it will remain at this stage for a while until some other pieces of the final project can be brought together.  After defrosting the gar and prying the jaws open, it was preserved in a bucket of formalin for several days.  Once formalin preservation was complete, the head was removed and soaked in water for approximately 24 hours (to reduce amount of formalin).  Finally, the head was dried by sitting in the sun/air-dried for several days.  The final product is what you see here; the photo was taken with Instagram, which I have been experimenting with with several primitive fishes as subjects…album coming soon; and you can see some other photos on our facebook page.–

-Phase 2: “Thawed Jaws”–

-In continuation of the alligator gar head/skull project, here are some photos of phase 2.  The head has completely thawed, which causes the muscles and joints to relax and allows for the jaws to be opened (not without some prying however).  The following series of photos shows various shots of the thawed alligator gar head before entering phase 3.

Here is a shot of the fully thawed head:

A posterior shot of the head, showing muscle, nerve, and bone detail:

Dorsal shot of the head; note the distinct bony plates comprising the skull:

A shot of the head with jaws pried open; note the prominent secondary row of teeth in the upper jaw, which is characteristic of the genus Atractosteus:

Straight into the mouth of the beast. Note the rounded forked tongue; the indentation allows for adjustment of prey fishes to go down head first:

For scale (no pun intended!) you can compare to the size of my hand:

Will continue with updates for phase 3 in the near future!–

“Gar de Frost”

-Following the recent buzz over the giant alligator gar caught in Texas (see previous post) and finally having a small portion of free time while preparing the lab for more gar work, I decided to begin a small project I’ve had on the table (or in the freezer) for a couple years now.  Phase 1 is defrosting a ~14″-long alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) head which I acquired from colleagues while visiting Nicholls State in Lousiana back in 2010.  I’ll do my best to keep an ongoing update on the project…for now I’m hoping this head will defrost properly over the next couple days before Phase 2!–

Phase 2 HERE.

-GARgantuan Alligator Gar (98″, +300 lbs) Bowfished in Texas–

-NOTE: I originally made this post on LEPISOSTEIDAE.net, however, a gar of this size definitely deserves some extra attention!–

-See photo and link for the story of a giant alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) that was recently bowfished in Texas. This alligator gar is one of the largest in recent history (over 8′ long and over 300 lbs), even though an accurate weight could not be determined. Information is not provided as to whether or not the large female gator gar had already spawned by the time of capture (it was bowfished out of a spawning group); it would be unfortunate to lose those good genes from the pool. It would also be interesting to analyze aging structures (otoliths, scales) from the individual to determine how old this fish was (alligator gars have been aged to over 70 years). This fish at least gives hope that there are still monster alligator gars still out there…and hopefully those beasts are able to evade capture for many more years.

Original article from Caller.com

GrindTV article

-Successful Captive Spawning of Alligator Gars–

Research on alligator gars at Nicholls State University & LSU

Students (from left) Paige O’Malley, Matthew Moroney and Courtney Stauderman remove an alligator gar from a holding tank at the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station in Baton Rouge. The gar were spawned in holding tanks as part of a research project studying methods of rearing the fish in captivity.
Photo: Craig Gautreaux/LSU AgCenter