Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Estuaries and Coasts



First Page


Last Page



The introduction of a non-native freshwater fish, blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus, in tributaries of Chesapeake Bay resulted in the establishment of fisheries and in the expansion of the population into brackish habitats. Blue catfish are an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay region, and efforts are underway to limit their impacts on native communities. Key characteristics of the population (population size, survival rates) are unknown, but such knowledge is useful in understanding the impact of blue catfish in estuarine systems. We estimated population size and survival rates of blue catfish in tidal habitats of the James River subestuary. We tagged 34,252 blue catfish during July–August 2012 and 2013; information from live recaptures (n = 1177) and dead recoveries (n = 279) were used to estimate annual survival rates and population size using Barker’s Model in a Robust Design and allowing for heterogeneity in detection probabilities. The blue catfish population in the 12-km study area was estimated to be 1.6 million fish in 2013 (95% confidence interval [CI] adjusted for overdispersion: 926,307–2,914,208 fish). Annual apparent survival rate estimates were low: 0.16 (95% CI 0.10–0.24) in 2012–2013 and 0.44 (95% CI 0.31– 0.58) in 2013–2014 and represent losses from the population through mortality, permanent emigration, or both. The tagged fish included individuals that were large enough to exhibit piscivory and represented size classes that are likely to colonize estuarine habitats. The large population size that we estimated was unexpected for a freshwater fish in tidal habitats and highlights the need to effectively manage such species


DOI 10.1007/s12237-017-0307-1


Mark recapture . Invasive species . Robust design . Coded wire tags . Individual heterogeneity