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Environmental and lunar cues are predictive of the timing of river entry and spawning‐site arrival in lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens

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The associations were quantified between daily and interannual variation in the timing of a closed population of lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens migration and arrival at spawning sites with stream environmental and lunar covariates. Spawning data were gathered from 1262 fish in Black Lake, Michigan 2001 to 2008 and by video monitoring 2000 to 2002. Sex‐specific variation in responses to external cues was also tested. Results showed that a greater number of individuals initiated migration from lake to riverine habitats at dawn and dusk relative to other times of the day. Current and lagged effects of water temperature and river discharge, and periods in the lunar cycle were important variables in models quantifying movements into the river and timing of adult arrival at spawning sites. Different suites of covariates were predictive of A. fulverscens responses during different periods of the spawning season. The timing of initiation of migration and spawning, and the importance of covariates to the timing of these events, did not differ between sexes. Stream flow and temperature covaried with other variables including day length and the lunar cycle. Anthropogenic disruption of relationships among variables may mean that environmental cues may no longer reliably convey information for Acipenseriformes and other migratory fishes.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: 2012-07-01

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