Nutrient-rich, turbid river plumes that are common to large lakes and coastal marine ecosystems have been hypothesized to benefit survival of fish during early life stages by increasing food availability and (or) reducing vulnerability to visual predators. However, evidence that river plumes truly benefit the recruitment process remains meager for both freshwater and marine fishes. Here, we use genotype assignment between juvenile and larval yellow perch (Perca flavescens) from western Lake Erie to estimate and compare recruitment to the age-0 juvenile stage for larvae residing inside the highly turbid, south-shore Maumee River plume versus those occupying the less turbid, more northerly Detroit River plume. Bayesian genotype assignment of a mixed assemblage of juvenile (age-0) yellow perch to putative larval source populations established that recruitment of larvae was higher from the turbid Maumee River plume than for the less turbid Detroit River plume during 2006 and 2007, but not in 2008. Our findings add to the growing evidence that turbid river plumes can indeed enhance survival of fish larvae to recruited life stages, and also demonstrate how novel population genetic analyses of early life stages can contribute to determining critical early life stage processes in the fish recruitment process.
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Carreon-Martinez, Lucia B.; Walter, Ryan P.; Johnson, Timothy B.; Ludsin, Stuart A.; and Heath, Daniel D.. (2015). Benefits of Turbid River Plume Habitat for Lake Erie Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) Recruitment Determined by Juvenile to Larval Genotype Assignment. Plos One, 10 (5), e0125234.