Physical processes can generate spatiotemporal heterogeneity in habitat quality for fish and also influence the overlap of pre-recruit individuals (e.g., larvae) with high-quality habitat through hydrodynamic advection. In turn, individuals from different stocks that are produced in different spawning locations or at different times may experience dissimilar habitat conditions, which can underlie within- and among-stock variability in larval growth and survival. While such physically-mediated variation has been shown to be important in driving intra- and inter-annual patterns in recruitment in marine ecosystems, its role in governing larval advection, growth, survival, and recruitment has received less attention in large lake ecosystems such as the Laurentian Great Lakes. Herein, we used a hydrodynamic model linked to a larval walleye (Sander vitreus) individual-based model to explore how the timing and location of larval walleye emergence from several spawning sites in western Lake Erie (Maumee, Sandusky, and Detroit rivers; Ohio reef complex) can influence advection pathways and mixing among these local spawning populations (stocks), and how spatiotemporal variation in thermal habitat can influence stock-specific larval growth. While basin-wide advection patterns were fairly similar during 2011 and 2012, smaller scale advection patterns and the degree of stock mixing varied both within and between years. Additionally, differences in larval growth were evident among stocks and among cohorts within stocks which were attributed to spatiotemporal differences in water temperature. Using these findings, we discuss the value of linked physical-biological models for understanding the recruitment process and addressing fisheries management problems in the world's Great Lakes.
- Ecosystem-based fisheries management
- Physical-biological model
- Portfolio effect
- Stock structure