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Annual variation in habitat-specific recruitment success: implications from an individual-based model of Lake Michigan alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)

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The identification of important spawning and nursery habitats for fish stocks can aid fisheries management, but is complicated by various factors, including annual variation in recruitment success. The alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is an ecologically important species in Lake Michigan that utilizes a variety of habitats for spawning and early life growth. While productive, warm tributary mouths (connected to Lake Michigan) may contribute disproportionately more recruits (relative to their habitat volume) to the adult alewife population than cooler, less productive nearshore habitats, the extent of interannual variation in the relative contributions of recruits from these two habitat types remains unknown. We used an individual-based bioenergetics simulation model and input data on daily temperatures to estimate alewife recruitment to the adult population by these different habitat types. Simulations suggest that nearshore lake habitats typically produce the vast majority of young alewife recruits. However, tributary habitats may contribute the majority of alewife recruits during years of low recruitment. We suggest that high interannual variation in the relative importance of habitats for recruitment is a common phenomenon, which should be considered when developing habitat management plans for fish populations.

L’identification des habitats importants de frayère et de nourricerie pour les stocks de poissons peut améliorer la gestion des pêches, mais elle est compliquée par divers facteurs, dont la variation annuelle du succès du recrutement. Le gaspareau (Alosa pseudoharengus) est une espèce d’importance écologique au lac Michigan qui fraye et se développe dans des habitats multiples. Les embouchures productives de tributaires plus chauds (reliés au lac Michigan) peuvent fournir une quantité disproportionnée de recrues (par rapport au volume représenté par ces habitats) à la population adulte de gaspareaux par comparaison aux habitats plus frais et moins productifs près des berges; cependant, l’importance de la variation interannuelle des contributions relatives de ces deux types d’habitat reste inconnue. Dans un modèle de simulation bioénergétique basé sur l’individu, nous utilisons les températures journalières comme données d’entrée pour estimer le recrutement de gaspareaux vers la population adulte à partir de ces différents types d’habitat. Les simulations laissent croire que les habitats le long des berges fournissent généralement la très grande majorité des recrues de gaspareaux. Cependant, les années de faible recrutement, il se peut que les tributaires produisent la majorité des recrues. Nous croyons que la forte variation interannuelle de l’importance relative des habitats pour le recrutement est un phénomène commun dont on doit tenir compte lors de l’établissement de plans de gestion pour les populations de poissons.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-07-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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