Movement Ecology of a Potamodromous Top Predator in a Large Lake: Synchrony and Coexistence of Distinct Migratory Patterns
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Migrations are a critical component of the life histories of many highly mobile animals. Potamodromous migrations that occur within large lakes are poorly understood for most species. This lack of understanding hampers restoration efforts and adaptive management because the movement of species and underlying patterns and mechanisms help scientists identify important habitats and quantify species’ roles in the ecosystem. This study quantified the spatiotemporal movements and migratory patterns of Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush, an iteroparous, potamodromous predator, in eastern Lake Ontario. The lake is highly managed and supports a diverse fish community of native and nonnative species. The movements of 41 Lake Trout were quantified over 2.4 years (December 2016 to April 2019) across a large array of 196 acoustic receivers in eastern Lake Ontario. An analysis of individual movements revealed a potential annual convergence occurring in the fall at a location other than the spawning grounds, followed by a synchronized migration to spawning areas. Consistent with divergent migrations, return migration was asynchronous among individuals but consistent in timing interannually, stretching over a longer period than did prespawning movements and across multiple routes. The data suggest the existence of three groups (i.e., contingents) of Lake Trout with distinct migratory behaviors. This study provides important information on the migratory patterns and routes and a potential staging area for a potamodromous top predator population in a large lake. This information can help managers understand the potential success and implications of employing different rehabilitation strategies, such as diversifying populations of Lake Trout through selective strain stocking in large deep lakes to aid reestablishment across habitats. In addition, our results have the potential to improve community dynamics modeling, understanding of nutrient cycling, and overall ecosystem function of large lakes.
Ivanova, Silviya V.; Johnson, Timothy B.; and Fisk, Aaron T.. (2021). Movement Ecology of a Potamodromous Top Predator in a Large Lake: Synchrony and Coexistence of Distinct Migratory Patterns. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 150 (6), 748-760.