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Ecological Aspects of the Pirate Perch (Aphredoderus sayanus) in East Texas Streams

Valerie Castillo1, Jake Swanson1,2, and Carmen G. Montaña1,*

1Department of Biology, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX 75962. 2Division of Environmental Science, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches TX 75962. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 21, Issue 4 (2022): 299–315

Abstract
Aphredoderus sayanus (Pirate Perch) is a cryptic fish species inhabiting rivers throughout the eastern United States. We sampled Pirate Perch across 16 streams in 4 river basins (Trinity, Neches, Sabine, and Cypress) within east Texas to examine their relative abundance, habitat associations, and to describe their diet and reproductive biology. Ninety-five individuals were collected across all river basins, with streams within the Neches River containing the highest number of occurrences. Instream habitat conditions varied among basins, with major differences reflected by flow regimes, water depth, and substrate diversity. Pirate Perch were primarily associated with streams having lentic flows, shallow waters that contained woody structures, and substrates dominated by leaf litter and detritus. Insectivory was confirmed for the species. Microplastics were also documented for the first time in their stomach contents. Maximum fecundity was 2161 eggs, and ova development indicated multiple clutches of eggs during their reproductive period.

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