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New insight into the spawning behavior of lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush, from a recovering population in the Laurentian Great Lakes
- Binder, T. R., Thompson, H. T., Muir, A. M., Riley, S. C., Marsden, J. E., Bronte, C. R., Krueger, C. C.
- Environmental biology of fishes 2015 v.98 no.1 pp. 173-181
- Salvelinus namaycush, courtship, males, models, sex ratio, spawning, Lake Huron
- Spawning behavior of lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush, is poorly understood, relative to stream-dwelling salmonines. Underwater video records of spawning in a recovering population from the Drummond Island Refuge (Lake Huron) represent the first reported direct observations of lake trout spawning in the Laurentian Great Lakes. These observations provide new insight into lake trout spawning behavior and expand the current conceptual model. Lake trout spawning consisted of at least four distinct behaviors: hovering, traveling, sinking, and gamete release. Hovering is a new courtship behavior that has not been previously described. The apparent concentration of hovering near the margin of the spawning grounds suggests that courtship and mate selection might be isolated from the spawning act (i.e., traveling, sinking, and gamete release). Moreover, we interpret jockeying for position displayed by males during traveling as a unique form of male-male competition that likely evolved in concert with the switch from redd-building to itinerant spawning in lake trout. Unlike previous models, which suggested that intra-sexual competition and mate selection do not occur in lake trout, our model includes both and is therefore consistent with evolutionary theory, given that the sex ratio on spawning grounds is skewed heavily towards males. The model presented in this paper is intended as a working hypothesis, and further revision may become necessary as we gain a more complete understanding of lake trout spawning behavior.