Dr. Chris McAllister, Biology Professor at EOSC-Idabel, has recently been conducting scientific research on non-game fish parasites in McCurtain County and southwestern Arkansas. He uses traditional methods (seines, dipnets) and more technologically-advanced methods (backpack electroshocking) to collect fish.
Dr. Mac electroshocking in the Rolling Fork River, Sevier Co., Arkansas.
Electroshocking in Yashau Creek, McCurtain Co., Oklahoma.
Using a backpack electroshocker (see photos), the right amount of current elicits taxis, an involuntary muscular response that causes fish to swim towards the anodes. Once fish reach an anode, they stop swimming and are stunned temporarily, usually floating belly up. Since fish are stunned only a few seconds, they must quickly be caught in the net and placed into a holding tank during the sampling period. They are then taken to Dr. Mac’s lab at EOSC and processed for parasites. He hopes to get EOSC zoology students involved with collecting in the future.
Interestingly enough, although fish biodiversity is high in this region of the state, little is known about their parasites. Collaborating with T. J. Fayton, a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi and Dr. Henry Robison (coauthor of The Fishes of Oklahoma), they have discovered new fish parasite host and geographic distributional records as well as several species, new to science.
Dr. Mac notes. “it is an absolute joy to know that you have found a new species that will forever carry your name as the descriptor, long after you and your collaborators have gone from this Earth.”
They plan to publish their results in several scientific journals in addition to presenting papers and posters at upcoming scientific meetings. Dr. Mac has been invited to present the research at the annual North American Native Fish Association Convention at Beavers Bend State Park, June 4-7, 2015. For those who are interested in attending, please see this link: http://www.nanfa.org/convention/2015.shtml.