Title

Experimental and Field Evaluation of Otolith Strontium as a Marker to Discriminate Between River-Spawning Populations of Walleye in Lake Erie

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2017

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Abstract

Otolith microchemistry is a commonly used tool for stock discrimination in fisheries management. Two key questions remain with respect to its effectiveness in discriminating among river-spawning populations. First, do larvae remain in their natal river long enough for their otoliths to pick up that system’s characteristic chemical signature? Second, are larval otolith microchemical differences between natal rivers sufficiently large to overcome spatiotemporal variation in water chemistry? We quantified how larval age, the ratio of ambient strontium to calcium concentrations (Sr:Ca), and water temperature influence otolith Sr in both lab-reared and wild-collected Lake Erie walleye (Sander vitreus). Otolith microchemistry shows promise as a spawning stock discrimination tool, given that otolith Sr in larval walleye (i) is more strongly influenced by ambient Sr:Ca than by temperature; (ii) reflects Sr:Ca levels in the natal environment, even in larvae as young as 2 days old; and (iii) can effectively discriminate between larvae captured in two key Lake Erie spawning tributaries, even in the face of short larval river residence times and within-year and across-year variation in ambient Sr:Ca.

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Volume

74

Issue

5

First Page

693

Last Page

701

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