About Solomon R David

Aquatic Ecologist, Assistant Professor, Science Communicator #GarLab

Scientists and state officials honor underappreciated fish with Gar Week

Alligator Gar, one of the four gar species found in Oklahoma and featured in #GarWeek

You’ve probably heard of Shark Week—a seven-day deep dive into everything shark. But if you want to celebrate toothy fish a bit closer to home, you’re in for a treat. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation celebrated its first Gar Week on Twitter.
Read story by Graycen Wheeler: https://www.kosu.org/energy-environment/2022-11-21/scientists-and-state-officials-honor-underappreciated-fish-with-gar-week

What’s a gar and why is it the big winner at the Minnesota Capitol?

‘Slaughter’ of odd fish led to social media outcry
Story by Dave Orrick on new policy setting limits on gar harvest in Minnesota (including comments from GarLab)

Nicholls Biology, State Agencies Receive $400,000 for Mississippi River Conservation Project

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will lead the observation and conservation of alligator gar and other Louisiana fish species for a $400,000 project that aims to improve connections between the Mississippi River and a north Louisiana floodplain.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded the $400,000 grant to Nicholls, the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), and the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee (LMRCC). The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will also partner on the project. 

The goal of the project is to improve connections between the Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area floodplain and the Mississippi River. LMRCC will improve three culverts and a weir to enhance the connection. LDWF will work on monitoring sport fish and water quality impacts, facilitate public outreach, and support the research teams. 

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Solomon David and his students will partner with LUMCON to monitor the alligator gar. Dr. David is an internationally recognized expert in garfish and principal investigator of the GarLab

“We are excited to work with this talented team of professionals and provide Nicholls students research opportunities to study these amazing fishes,” said Dr. David. “Fishes are among the best indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, and we’ll be looking to Louisiana’s largest freshwater fish to help determine restoration and conservation success.”

Dr. David and his students will monitor how the project affects the local fish populations and habitat. The information gathered will be used to guide future projects. 

“We’re looking at how the Mississippi River floodplain restoration, specifically improving connectivity between the river and the floodplain, benefits wildlife,” Dr. David said. “Alongside the alligator gar, we’ll also be monitoring size, number and habitat use of other fish species to get a better picture of how habitat improvements benefit these valuable freshwater ecosystems.”

The project is one of four awarded by NFWF through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund. Launched in 2017, the LMAV Fund is a competitive grant program that supports restoration, enhancement and management of bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, and promotes aquatic connectivity on private and public lands. The program is a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with private funding from International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership and the Walton Family Foundation.

Each project will support the preservation of the nation’s largest floodplain. At more than 24 million acres, the valley stretches from Illinois to Louisiana, including the Atchafalaya Basin and Houma-Thibodaux region.


MEDIA CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Stop Trash Talking These Fish!

It’s time to dispose of the “trash fish” label when it comes to native fishes!

The Fisheries Blog

Spotted Gar and Bigmouth Buffalo from Louisiana bayou collected by ichthyology students at Nicholls State University.

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of the entire Fisheries Blog team.

Cover Image: Bigmouth Buffalo from Louisiana bayou collected by Nicholls State University graduate student Sarah Fontana.

Many of you have heard the terms rough fish, non-game fish, coarse fish…trash fish. What fishes are these terms referring to? They can vary regionally, but it’s usually a species that particular angler doesn’t want to catch. These fishes aren’t your Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, or Chinook Salmon; more often they are suckers, gars, bowfins, and drum. Historically less popular, members of the latter group are still important components of their native ecosystems, and contribute to biodiversity! Some of the so-called “trash fish” group help maintain ecosystem…

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A #GarWars Sequel: Latest on Conservation of Ancient Fishes

Check out the latest on conservation of gars from Matt Miller of The Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science blog! #GarWars


I recently had the privilege of writing a guest post for The Fisheries Blog on GAR; this was alongside the FINtastic GARtwork of Hannah Dean (pictured below). Click on the image or check out the post HERE.


Alligator Gar vs. Asian Carp, and Conservation of Ancient Fishes

ASF - NatGeo - Gar vs Carp

Alligator Gars have been in the media quite a bit recently, primarily regarding their potential as a “weapon against Asian Carp.” But is carp control really the purpose of their reintroduction in several states, most recently in Illinois? Even if that were the case, would these ancient giants make a difference versus the gargantuan numbers of Bighead and Silver Carps?

I had the opportunity to provide some background and further insight through our National Geographic blog channel at Shedd Aquarium. Please read, share, and there will certainly be more to come!

The Latest on Asian Carp and Threat to the Great Lakes

Here’s the latest press release on the recent Asian Carp eDNA results near Lake Michigan via Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN). Comments to follow soon, but need to emphasize these are eDNA results, and positive samples have been found above the electric barrier before. Media headlines are likely to sensationalize these results as in the past.

Asian Carp Shedd 2005a

New Data Show Multiple Asian Carp eDNA Hits Just Yards from Lake Michigan

(Wednesday, January 14, 2015) Chicago, IL – Asian carp continue to knock on the door of the Great Lakes, based on eDNA sampling results released last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The sampling data, collected in October, show the presence of bighead or silver carp DNA throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Most alarming is detection of carp DNA very near the lock in downtown Chicago – less than one city block from Lake Michigan.

In the face of this threat, last winter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) with no clear recommendation for next steps to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. The GLMRIS report does, however, identify restoring the natural divide between the two waterways as the one long-term solution effective in preventing the movement of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The report identified 13 invasive species at significant risk of moving between the waterways. Despite this finding, agencies and elected officials have yet  to commit to this solution.

A committee of key, diverse regional stakeholders known as the “Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee” has been formed with a goal to reach consensus on a set of recommendations to elected and appointed local, state and federal officials and the public on short-and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins through the CAWS. The Advisory Committee is working toward a deadline of Dec. 15, 2015, with interim work products as appropriate.

In the shorter term, the people of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins need quick action to reduce the risk of invasive species moving between these two great waters. While no substitute for a permanent solution to the problem, immediate risk-reduction steps can be taken, including:

  • Design of a new engineered channel to be constructed in the approach to the Brandon Road lock, a potentially effective location for reducing one-way movement of species towards the Great Lakes;
  • Evaluation, engineering, and design of control technologies to deploy in the approach channel and the Brandon Road lock structure; and
  • Research to further evaluate reconfiguring locks as a means to control aquatic invasive species while maintaining the health of native aquatic life and habitat.

DNA evidence is an early detection tool to understand the potential movement of carp, and testing results have consistently found DNA hits on a path closer and closer to the Great Lakes over the past several years of testing.  We cannot afford to wait until a  breeding population shows up in the Chicago River. Prevention needs to happen now, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other key decisionmakers should take swift action.


Background: The recently released U.S. Fish and Wildlife eDNA results can be found here: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA/results/caws/2015-01-05/2015-01-05.html

Media Contacts:

Jennifer J. Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes: (312) 445-9760,  jcaddick@greatlakes.org

Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council: (312) 651-7909, jmogerman@NRDC.org

Katrina Phillips, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter: (312) 251.1680 x 116, katrina.phillips@sierraclub.org

Marc Smith, National Wildlife Federation: (734) 887-7116, msmith@nwf.org

Robert Hirschfeld, Prairie Rivers Network: (217) 344-2371 x205, rhirschfeld@prairierivers.org

Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee Riverkeeper: (414) 287-0207 x2, cheryl_nenn@milwaukeeriverkeeper.org

Lee Willbanks, Save The River – Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper: (315) 686-2010, lee@savetheriver.org

Todd Ambs, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition: (608) 692-9974, AmbsT@nwf.org

Kristy Meyer, Ohio Environmental Council: (614) 487-7506, Kristy@theOEC.org

reBlog Primitive Fishes: First Gar-Spotting in the Second City


Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

After recent conversations with colleagues* at the Field Museum, Case Western, and Twitter, I was inspired to expand upon the background and potential implications of the recent first finding of a Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) in the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS). I will be doing so across Primitive Fishes, Lepisosteidae.net, and here, and will link across the sites too. My first post, to bring interested parties up to speed, can be found here:

First Gar-Spotting in the Second City

Next entry coming soon!–


*THANKS Drs. R.Oldfield & C.McMahan (@mugilidsrock), E.Graslie (@Ehmee), and D.Jakubiak (@DavidELPC)!


Great Lakes Fishes on TV!

Logperch DPTV Promo 1

This past Wednesday* I had the great opportunity to join colleagues/researchers from The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and United States Geological Survey (USGS) to discuss Great Lakes native fisheries on an episode of “Great Lakes Now Connect,” a series by Detroit Public Television.

The episode summary from the Great Lakes Now website follows, and the full episode is available in segments at the links below. This was in front of a live studio audience (also live streamed), and was also a lot of fun! When my background on studying the spotted gar came up, I even managed to get in a “Go BLUE!” at about 6:50 in my interview.

GLNC - Go Blue

Received an entertaining response from host Christy McDonald (an MSU graduate) when I said “Go BLUE!” after mentioning my alma mater (where I studied the Spotted Gar).

Program Summary from Great Lakes Now:

The Nature Conservancy and Detroit Public Television are excited to bring you another episode of Great Lakes Now: Connect digging deep into the science behind Great Lakes issues.

The Great Lakes once boasted as many as 150 species of fish in their vast waters that comprise the largest freshwater system on Earth. Today, some of those species are gone forever while the populations of others are greatly reduced. Native Great Lakes fish populations face serious threats from aquatic invasive species, degraded habitat, pollution and obstructions that block fish passage. What is being done to restore Great Lakes native fisheries to their former glory? Find out as we discuss the challenges and solutions facing Great Lakes fish on this next episode of Great Lakes Now Connect: Fisheries.
For more information on Fisheries please visit: The Nature Conservancy

Hosted by award-winning journalist Christy McDonald, and moderated by The Nature Conservancy’s Dr. Patrick Doran, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy. Special guests included Dr. Solomon David of Shedd Aquarium and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Maureen Walsh of United States Geological Survey, and Randy Claramunt of The Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Episode Sections:

Video 1- Jim Johnson has devoted his life’s work to protecting fisheries in Alpena, Michigan.

Discussion Panel 1- Patrick Doran (TNC), Maureen Walsh (USGS), Randy Claramunt (DNR)

Guest Interview – Christy McDonald (host) interviews Solomon David (Shedd Aquarium/University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Video 2- Restoring Reef Habitats

Discussion Panel 2 – Patrick Doran, Maureen Walsh, Randy Claramunt, Solomon David

Audience Question & Answer

*In conjunction with TNC and Shedd Aquarium, we also put together a “tweet up” (twitter chat) on Great Lakes native fishes on 10/22 to kick off the discussion. The opening image is one of our promos, I’ll post others soon. You can check out the tweet up conversations as well as live tweets from the Great Lakes Now Connect episode by tracking #GLfish!