River-plume use during the pelagic larval stage benefits recruitment of a lentic fish

Julie M. Reichert, Brian J. Fryer, Kevin L. Pangle, Timothy B. Johnson, Jeff T. Tyson, Alison B. Drelich, Stuart A. Ludsin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Similar to coastal marine systems, Lake Erie exhibits open-water river plumes that differ physicochemically and biologically from surrounding waters. To explore their importance to yellow perch (Perca flavescens) recruitment in western Lake Erie, we tested two related hypotheses: (0 contributions of larvae to the juvenile stage (when recruitment is set) would be greater from nutrient-rich Maumee River plume (MRP) waters than from less-productive non-MRP waters; and (ii) warmer temperatures and higher zooplankton (prey) production in the MRP (versus non-MRP waters) would underlie this expected recruitment difference through bottom-up effects on larval growth. Peak larval yellow perch density was 10-fold and 5-fold less in the MRP than in non-MRP waters during 2006 and 2007, respectively. However, otolith micro-chemical analyses demonstrated that disproportionately more juvenile recruits emanated from the MRP than from non-MRP waters during both years. Although temperature and zooplankton production were higher in the MRP than in non-MRP waters during both years, observed recruitment differences were not definitively linked to bottom-up effects. Top-down effects also appeared important, as high turbidity in the MRP may offer a survival advantage by reducing predation mortality on larvae. Our research highlights the need to better understand biophysical coupling in freshwater systems and demonstrates how stochastic tributary inputs can influence fish recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-1004
Number of pages18
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


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