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ARS Home » Animal Production and Protection » Research » Research Project #444869

Research Project: Economic Assessment of Losses to Bird Predation on Texas Aquaculture Farms

Location: Animal Production and Protection

Project Number: 0500-00104-001-003-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 16, 2023
End Date: Aug 15, 2025

Bird predation on outdoor aquaculture production systems is increasingly becoming an issue throughout the Southern U.S. farms mainly due to migratory birds. Studies on the economic effect of losses due to double-crested cormorant predation have been done on catfish farms in Mississippi and are currently being estimated on Alabama farms as well. Texas, however, has received much less attention despite having a significant acreage under catfish production and housing the red drum industry – the second-largest marine finfish farm sector in the U.S., as well as considerable acreage under shrimp and hybrid striped bass production. Due to their proximity to Matagorda Bay, aquaculture farms in Texas are being negatively affected from predation by a variety of piscivorous birds. Identifying the primary birds that are causing economic losses on species like red drum, hybrid striped bass, shrimp, and catfish operations will help Texas farmers to employ effective bird management strategies. Moreover, losses due to bird predation on species like red drum, shrimp, and hybrid striped bass farms have not been closely studied. Information on the types of birds affecting these aquaculture species and the extent of economic losses due to bird predation will help in devising better policies to reduce human wildlife conflict in the area. Therefore, estimation of economic losses due to bird predation on aquaculture farms in Texas is of utmost importance to support the growth of U.S. aquaculture industry. The goal of this study is to estimate the total economic losses on aquaculture species of interest in Texas due to predation by various birds in different seasons. This will be done in four stages, first by identifying the birds foraging on fish and the seasons in which predation is most common. Secondly, information on bird management expenditures will be collected through farm surveys. The third stage will be to conduct surveys in different seasons to estimate the bird population in the area and to collect bird samples from farms to evaluate diet and develop species specific bioenergetic models. Finally, lost revenue and total economic losses due to bird predation will be estimated using the information from bioenergetic models and farm data collected through surveys.

1) Estimating the farm-level expenditure on bird management on red drum, hybrid striped bass, shrimp, and catfish farms in Texas. 2) Developing bioenergetic models to estimate the fish-eating behavior of various piscivorous birds found on aquaculture farms in Texas. 3) Estimation of lost revenue and total economic losses due to bird predation on red drum, hybrid striped bass, shrimp, and catfish farms through bioenergetic models.