In his seminal work, Hjort (in Fluctuations in the great fisheries of Northern Europe. Conseil Parmanent International Pour L'Exploration De La Mar. Rapports et Proces-Verbaux, 20: 1-228, 1914) observed that fish population levels fluctuated widely, year-class strength was set early in life, and egg production by adults could not alone explain variability in year-class strength. These observations laid the foundation for hypotheses on mechanisms driving recruitment variability in marine systems. More recently, researchers have sought to explain year-class strength of important fish in the Laurentian Great Lakes and some of the hypotheses developed for marine fisheries have been transferred to Great Lakes fish. We conducted a literature review to determine the applicability of marine recruitment hypotheses to Great Lakes fish. We found that temperature, interspecific interactions, and spawner effects (abundance, age, and condition of adults) were the most important factors in explaining recruitment variability in Great Lakes fish, whereas relatively fewer studies identified bottom-up trophodynamic factors or hydrodynamic factors as important. Next, we compared recruitment between Great Lakes and Baltic Sea fish populations and found no statistical difference in factors driving recruitment between the two systems, indicating that recruitment hypotheses may often be transferable between Great Lakes and marine systems. Many recruitment hypotheses developed for marine fish have yet to be applied to Great Lakes fish. We suggest that future research on recruitment in the Great Lakes should focus on forecasting the effects of climate change and invasive species. Further, because the Great Lakes are smaller and more enclosed than marine systems, and have abundant fishery-independent data, they are excellent candidates for future hypothesis testing on recruitment in fish.
Pritt, J. J., Roseman, E. F., & O’Brien, T. P. (2014). Mechanisms driving recruitment variability in fish: Comparisons between the Laurentian Great Lakes and marine systems. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71(8), 2252–2267. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsu080