It has been awhile since I did a purely pointy-headed fisheries biologist science update. I have some things to tell you about, cue the theme music . . . .
At work, I call this time of year the meeting and sport show season. I have been to several meetings in the past few weeks; have sat around in rooms with a bunch of other pointy-headed fisheries biologists, so let me tell you about one of those gatherings. . . . For the past several years we, Nebraska Game & Parks fisheries staff, have had a meeting with the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge staff, and with researchers from South Dakota State University. Many years ago we entered into an agreement with South Dakota State University to learn more about the fish communities in our Nebraska sandhill lakes. Annually, we get together to discuss what we have learned, what is happening on the Valentine Refuge and talk about plans for the next year and beyond. These meeting are very informative and I have been privileged to be a part of them from the very beginning.
Some of you might be wondering why we would contract with South Dakota State University (SDSU) to do research on Nebraska waters? I will tell you why, SDSU researchers, specifically Dr. Dave Willis and his students, have expertise in doing the type of research we needed. We have had connections with those folks for years and they were the natural choice when this research started.
As is true with most fisheries research, we had some ideas, some hypotheses, about sport fish populations and dynamics in our sandhill lakes before the research started. Those ideas framed initial questions we wanted answered. From there fisheries research has answered many questions for us, but science always comes up with more questions. So, the research has continued for many years now, and has taught us a lot about the uniqueness of our sandhill lakes, their fish communities, and the fishing opportunities found in them. The more I learn, the more it reaffirms my belief that those sandhill lakes and their fish are very special, a state treasure.
At this year’s meeting we were handed a 3-page handout that listed all of the scientific publications that are in press or have already been published from the sandhill lakes research. I know this will bore you to death, but I wanted to show you those 3 pages so you can get some idea of the volume and breadth of research that has been done. I think it is darned impressive.
Now those are just the papers that have been published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. I know there have also been some articles published in popular literature and I did not see any of those listed there. Anyway, if the list is not enough for you, you can see reprints of many of those papers at the website listed at the end, http://www.sdstate.edu/nrm/publications/pubs.cfm .
I would never expect that you would be interested in reading any of those dry, technical, scientific papers. I have not read all of them. But I do know this, we know a lot more about our sandhill lakes and the fish in them, and that will help us manage those resources even better in the future. Yes, we spend angler dollars on projects like this, research like this, and I believe it is worth every penny of it. My only regret is that this research was not ongoing when I was a graduate student up at SDSU! How I would have loved to been able to do some of this research!