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Movement patterns and spatial segregation of two populations of lake trout Salvelinus namaycush in Lake Huron

Binder, Thomas R., Marsden, J. Ellen, Riley, Stephen C., Johnson, James E., Johnson, Nicholas S., He, Ji, Ebener, Mark, Holbrook, Christopher M., Bergstedt, Roger A., Bronte, Charles R., Hayden, Todd A., Krueger, Charles C.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2017 v.43 no.3 pp. 108-118
Salvelinus namaycush, acoustics, decision making, extinction, fish, fisheries, fisheries management, habitats, life history, philopatry, population dynamics, spawning, telemetry, Lake Huron
Movement ecology is an important component of life history and population dynamics, and consequently its understanding can inform successful fishery management decision-making. While lake trout populations in Lake Huron have shown signs of recovery from near extinction in recent years, knowledge of their movement behavior remains incomplete. We used acoustic telemetry to describe and compare movement patterns of two Lake Huron lake trout populations: Drummond Island and Thunder Bay. Both populations showed high spawning site fidelity, with no evidence of co-mingling during non-spawning season. Detections between spawning periods were mainly limited to receivers within 100km of spawning locations, and suggested that the two populations likely remained segregated throughout the year. Drummond Island fish, which spawn inside the Drummond Island Refuge, primarily dispersed east into Canadian waters of Lake Huron, with 79–92% of fish being detected annually on receivers outside the refuge. In contrast, Thunder Bay fish tended to disperse south towards Saginaw Bay. Large proportions (i.e., >80%) of both populations were available to fisheries outside the management zone containing their spawning location. Thunder Bay fish moved relatively quickly to overwinter habitat after spawning, and tended to repeat the same post-spawning movement behavior each year. The consistent, predictable movement of both populations across management zones highlights the importance of understanding population dynamics to effective management of Lake Huron lake trout.