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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 31, 2020

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
https://blog.nature.org/science/2017/11/13/gar-wars-a-fish-force-awakens/

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!

-UPDATES (brief, but long overdue)!!!–

-Hi All,

Many apologies for the lack of updates over the past many months, the transition from University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) to my postdoc at Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)/University of Wisconsin (Madison) kept me quite busy to say the least!  I will try to update more consistently, but for now, please see the following image/link to an overview of some of our Great Lakes migratory fishes work at Shedd Aquarium/U-Wisconsin Madison which will be featured in blog updates for National Geographic!  More field pics to come from my current field work here in Green Bay, WI (tracking migratory northern pike Esox lucius)!–

–solomon

Image

-SNRE Biostation Orientation featured on the U-M homepage!–

-The School of Natural Resources & Environment new student orientation at the U-M Biological Station (Pellston, MI) is currently featured on the U-M homepage!  Main photo shows me with several new students during the electrofishing activities on the Sturgeon River near UMBS.  I’ve helped out/led the electrofishing activities for 5 years (this year was my final year), and we have always caught some big fishes!  Photos by SNRE’s fantastic Media/Web Administrator Dave Brenner.–

-Migrating to the Windy City!–

-It’s official!  I have accepted a postdoctoral research position at the D.P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago!  This is also a joint position with University of Wisconsin – Madison (I’ll be primarily based out of Chicago).  My research supervisors will be Dr. Chuck Knapp (Shedd Aquarium) and Dr. Pete McIntyre (University of Wisconsin).  The research will focus primarily on Great Lakes migratory fishes, although we will be developing other aquatic conservation ecology projects as well.  I’ll be going through a transitional period between Ann Arbor and Chicago this fall, which will allow me to wrap up my current research/work at the University of Michigan while also learning the ropes at Shedd/U-Wisconsin.  I have several other updates to post, and will try to keep up as the current research concludes and the new projects start up!–