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A biophysical model of Lake Erie walleye (Sander vitreus) explains interannual variations in recruitment

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We used a three-dimensional coupled hydrodynamic–ecological model to investigate how lake currents can affect walleye (Sander vitreus) recruitment in western Lake Erie. Four years were selected based on a fall recruitment index: two high recruitment years (i.e., 1996 and 1999) and two low recruitment years (i.e., 1995 and 1998). During the low recruitment years, the model predicted that (i) walleye spawning grounds experienced destructive bottom currents capable of dislodging eggs from suitable habitats (reefs) to unsuitable habitats (i.e., muddy bottom), and (ii) the majority of newly hatched larvae were transported away from the known suitable nursery grounds at the start of their first feeding. Conversely, during two high recruitment years, predicted bottom currents at the spawning grounds were relatively weak, and the predicted movement of newly hatched larvae was toward suitable nursery grounds. Thus, low disturbance-based egg mortality and a temporal and spatial match between walleye first feeding larvae and their food resources were predicted for the two high recruitment years, and high egg mortality plus a mismatch of larvae with their food resources was predicted for the two low recruitment years. In general, mild westerly or southwesterly winds during the spawning–nursery period should favour walleye recruitment in the lake.

Nous utilisons un modèle tridimensionnel hydrodynamique et écologique couplé pour étudier comment les courants lacustres peuvent affecter le recrutement du doré (Sander vitreus) dans la région occidentale du lac Érié. Nous avons retenu quatre années d’après un coefficient de recrutement automnal, deux années de fort recrutement (1996 et 1999) et deux années de faible recrutement (1995 et 1998). Les années de recrutement faible, le modèle prédit que (i) les frayères de dorés ont connu des courants de fond destructeurs capables de déloger les œufs des habitats favorables (récifs) et de les reléguer dans des habitats inadéquats (fonds boueux) et (ii) la majorité des larves nouveau-nées ont été délogées des nourriceries favorables connues au début de leur première alimentation. À l’inverse, les deux années de recrutement important, les courants de fond prédits sur les frayères étaient relativement faibles et les déplacements prédits des larves nouvellement écloses se faisaient vers les nourriceries favorables. Ainsi, le modèle prédit une faible mortalité des œufs due à la perturbation et une coïncidence temporelle et spatiale entre les larves de dorés et leurs ressources alimentaires lors de leur première alimentation pour les deux années de fort recrutement, alors qu’il prédit une forte mortalité des œufs et une séparation des larves de leurs ressources alimentaires lors des deux années de recrutement faible. En général, des vents doux de l’ouest ou du sud-ouest durant les périodes de fraye et de nourricerie devraient favoriser le recrutement des dorés dans le lac.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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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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