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Natal Source and the Influence of Environmental Bottlenecks on Largemouth Bass Recruitment in Elephant Butte Reservoir


July 2016 - June 2019


sportfish in New Mexico. From 2007 to 2010, relative abundance of the bass population in Elephant Butte Reservoir was comparable to the States’ target objectives of 20-40 fish/h. Average CPUE of largemouth bass in Elephant Butte changed little between 2012 (10.3 fish/h) and 2013 (12.3 fish/h) remaining well below the statewide target objective of 20-40 fish/h. Despite the low CPUE, recruitment of young-of-year (YOY) occurred in 2013. While smaller size classes may have been present (but missed in collections), the low CPUE and high relative weight suggests recruitment occurs but is limited in Elephant Butte Reservoir.
From 2011 to 2015, 12,000-68,000 largemouth bass fingerlings from Montana and Arkansas were stocked in Elephant Butte Reservoir to augment recruitment of largemouth bass populations. By targeting specific size classes of largemouth bass (representative of age classes), we can retrospectively characterize the relative contribution of native versus stocked largemouth bass in prior stocking years from outside sources. We will implement a non-lethal method using stable isotopes to characterize native versus stocked fish within a series of age classes of the largemouth bass population in Elephant Butte Reservoir. To identify causal linkages associated with recruitment in largemouth bass populations, the first step will be to characterize whether recruitment has occurred through the transitioning of ontogenetic phases (i.e., native spawn), or, if recruitment occurred through stocking of fingerlings, and thereby skipping the transitioning period (i.e., stocked).


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 159

Post Docs: 57

University Staff: 260

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 688

Scientific Publications: 1918

Presentations: 4316



Funding Agencies

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey