Largemouth Bass, Widemouth Bass, Bigmouth ass, Black Bass, Bucketmouth, Green Bass, American Black Bass
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Value of species
The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a freshwater gamefish in the sunfish family, a species of black bass native to North America. This species is native to the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec to Minnesota and south to Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida, including Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida and Gulf drainages from southern Florida to northern Mexico (Page and Burr 1991). It has been introduced throughout the United States, southern Canada, and much of world.
The largemouth bass is an olive-green fish, in the North East right after ice-out, it most often has a gray color, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. In comparison to age, a female bass is larger than a male. The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg). The fish lives 16 years on average.
The juvenile largemouth bass consumes mostly small bait fish, scuds, small shrimp, and insects. Adults consume smaller fish (bluegill, banded killifish), shad, snails, crawfish (crayfish), frogs, snakes, salamanders, bats and even small water birds, mammals, and baby alligators. In larger lakes and reservoirs, adult bass occupy deeper water than younger fish, and shift to a diet consisting almost entirely of smaller fish like shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, shiners, and sunfish. It also consumes younger members of larger fish species, such as pike, catfish, trout, walleye, white bass, striped bass, and even smaller black bass. Prey items can be as large as 50% of the bass's body length or larger.
Adult largemouth are generally apex predators within their habitat, but they are preyed upon by many animals while young.
The largemouth bass has been introduced into many other regions and countries due to its popularity as a sport fish. It causes the decline, displacement or extinctions of species in its new habitat through predation and competition, for example in Namibia. They are an invasive species in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and are a danger to native fish fry. They have also been blamed for the extinction of the Atitlan Grebe, a large waterbird which once inhabited Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. In 2011, researchers found that in streams and rivers in the Iberian Peninsula, juvenile largemouth bass were able to demonstrate trophic plasticity, meaning that they were able to adjust their feeding habits to obtain the necessary amount of energy needed to survive. The ability to do such, allows them to be successful as invasive species in relatively stable aquatic food webs. Similarly, a study done in Japan showed that the introduction of both largemouth bass and bluegill into farm ponds have caused increases in the numbers of benthic organisms, resulting from the predation on fishes, crustaceans, and nymphal odonates by the bass. The largemouth bass has been causing sharp decreases in native fish populations in Japan since 1996, especially in bitterling fish in Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma.