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St. Lawrence River Esocid
Characterizing the spatial ecology of age-0 muskellunge and northern pike
September 2015 - September 2017
Understanding the spatial ecology of wild fish at various scales and temporal periods enables fisheries biologists to identify critical habitat requirements during key life-stages on a species-specific basis. These investigations can identify environmental and biological factors that influence early-life stages of fish. A decline has been observed in self-sustaining populations of esocids - endemic, apex, river predators and recreationally significant sportfish in the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River system. Since the ecology of juvenile esocids is not well understood, our team is investigating post-emigration spatial ecology for applied conservation and habitat conservation purposes. What are residency, movement patterns and habitat use of wild, age-0 muskellunge? What environmental variables may influence their spatial ecology? Using the smallest commercially available transmitters (JSATs – Lotek Wireless), our team will address these difficult questions and use the data to understand the role of hydrologic and spatial features in juvenile fish habitat selection. Although muskellunge are the primary focus of this project, we are also conducting a comparative study on northern pike, adding a valuable ecological food-web component to this work. This State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) - Carleton University partnership highlights a long-term data and management commitment and represents a significant step towards addressing key knowledge gaps to further the conservation of river predators throughout their life history.