Patterns in spatial use of land-locked Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in a large lake

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Great Lakes Research


Acoustic telemetry, Depth, Home range, Lake Ontario, Mark-recapture, Movement


Understanding the spatial use of reintroduced fish is useful for fisheries management and evaluating restoration success. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) were reintroduced into Lake Ontario in the 1990s; however, the movement ecology of these land-locked fish is unknown. Using acoustic telemetry and Floy tag mark-recaptures, we examined seasonal home range and space use of Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario. Hatchery-raised adult Atlantic salmon were tagged with acoustic transmitters (n = 14; 8 with depth sensors) or Floy tags (n = 1915) and released. Both acoustic telemetry and Floy tag recaptures (n = 90) indicated cross lake movements, and home ranges encompassed nearly the entire lake in summer but was smaller in winter. Movements were nearshore (<2 km from shore) from spring to summer at ∼20 m bathymetric depths, with movements closer to shore in the fall, and further offshore (∼5.5 km from shore and 45 m bathymetric depths) in winter. Depth use was relatively shallow (<4 m) with occasional deeper dives (max = 28.5 m), and small diel vertical movements (1–5 m), moving deeper during daytime, consistent with ocean movements of Atlantic salmon. There appears to be spatial segregation among Atlantic salmon and other Lake Ontario salmonids, however, overlap likely occurs in nearshore waters during the spring. Wide-ranging movements of Atlantic salmon in binational (Canada/USA) waters reflects the importance of government agencies collaborating to ensure sustainable fisheries and the coordination of species restoration activities. This is the first study to provide detailed spatial use of Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon to assist in the management of this reintroduced species.