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Philopatry and vagrancy of white bass (Morone chrysops) spawning in the Sandusky River: Evidence of metapopulation structure in western Lake Erie using otolith chemistry

Hayden, Todd A., Miner, Jeffrey G., Farver, John R., Fryer, Brian J.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2011 v.37 no.4 pp. 691-697
Morone chrysops, chemistry, freshwater, otoliths, philopatry, population, rivers, salmon, spawning, strontium, Lake Erie
Although natal homing and philopatry are well studied in anadromous salmon, few studies have investigated philopatric behavior in large, freshwater systems. In western Lake Erie, white bass (Morone chrysops) undergo seasonal spawning migrations from the open-water regions of Lake Erie to nearshore reef complexes and tributaries. The three primary spawning locations in Lake Erie are within 80km of each other and are not separated by physical barriers. We used naturally occurring differences in otolith strontium concentrations among major spawning locations to address philopatry and vagrancy to the Sandusky River spawning location. Most individuals spawning in the Sandusky River were natal to this river (73%). No statistically significant differences in the extent of homing by sex or age of spawning were found, although a potential pattern of decreased homing with increased age of fish was observed. Given the proportion of vagrant individuals we found spawning in the Sandusky River (27%), it is unlikely that Lake Erie white bass spawning populations are genetically distinct. Furthermore, the white bass population in Lake Erie appears to be structured as a metapopulation, with non-philopatric individuals serving as a link between spawning populations.