A bobber's perspective on angler-driven vectors of invasive species transmission


Prevention of aquatic invasive species is a fundamental management challenge. With hundreds of millions of people participating in fishing trips each year, understanding angler movements that transmit invasive species can provide critical insight into the most effective locations and scales at which to apply preventative measures. Recent evidence suggests that mobile technologies provide new opportunities to understand different types of angler movement behaviour beyond what is possible with infrequently and sparsely conducted in-person boat surveys and mail questionnaires. Here we capitalise on data provided by ReelSonar’s iBobber, a sonar-enabled bobber with over 5 M recorded fishing locations, globally. By quantifying geographic patterns of fishing activities and assessing how these patterns change seasonally, we explore angler behaviour across the entire continental United States in terms of fishing frequency and distance travelled between sites and characterise the attributes of fished ecosystems. We found that iBobber users (anglers) undertook 66,918 trips to 20,049 different water-bodies over a two-year period. Anglers who use iBobber were more likely to visit larger, deeper and more urbanised water-bodies and these water-bodies were over five times more likely to be a reservoir compared to a lake. Inter-water-body travel road distances averaged 93 km (SD = 277 km; range < 1–300 km) and nearly half of these movements occurred over a timespan of two days or less, a timeframe that we show falls well within the desiccation tolerance window of many prevalent plant and animal invasive species. Our study offers novel insight into spatiotemporal patterns of angler behaviour well beyond the geographical and temporal extent of conventional ground-collected approaches and carries important implications for predicting and preventing future transmission of aquatic invasive species via recreational fishing.