Alligator Gar population assessment

An Alligator Gar population assessment is ongoing in northwest Florida. Beginning in 2010, FWRI researchers, along with local, state and federal partners, have been studying alligator gar movement and habitat use. Researchers initiated a multi-census mark/recapture project to estimate population size in the Escambia River (Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties) in 2014 and 2015. With research in the Escambia complete, scientists shifted efforts to the Yellow River (Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties). Biologists are using telemetry transmitters to track movement and habitat use, followed by a mark-recapture study. They plan to conduct future sampling throughout the remainder of the species’ range, including the Choctawhatchee and Perdido watersheds. Additional sampling may also be conducted in the Choctawhatchee, Pensacola, and Perdido bays if it is determined that there is an existing sustainable estuarine population of Alligator Gar. Results from the study will guide the protection, conservation, and management of one of Florida’s largest freshwater fish species. Biologists from FWRI, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, and Habitat and Species Conservation helped with the sampling effort, and also our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, University of Florida Sea Grant Extension and University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.