Date of Award

Fall 11-21-2019

Semester of Degree

December

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology

Department

Environmental Science, Division of

Major Professor

Donald Stewart

Steering Committee Member

Jeremy Wright

Steering Committee Member

Solomon David

Steering Committee Member

William Bemis

Abstract

Bowfins, Amia spp., are among the best-studied North American fishes because they are a sister-taxon to teleosts. Of 13 nominal species, 12 were synonymized with A. calva in 1896; six of those originated from the Mississippi drainage. To test that monotypy hypothesis for Mississippi basin (and adjacent Lake Pontchartrain) Bowfins, morphological differences among six populations were analyzed using ANCOVA, PCA, Mann-Whitney U-tests. Results revealed significant differences among populations, indicating five morphotypes (species?) were present. Two sites had sympatric morphotypes. Thus, the 123-year-old monotypy hypothesis was rejected, highlighting need for taxonomic revision of Amia. Discovery of previously unrecognized Bowfin diversity raises new urgency for conservation of various populations. Recent establishment of fisheries for Bowfin caviar in various states may threaten persistence of some populations. Review of Bowfin management revealed general absence of regulations concerning caviar harvests. Broader use of caviar regulations, perhaps including closed seasons or size limits, may be needed.

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