Evidence for Migratory Spawning Behavior by Morphologically Distinct Cisco (Coregonus artedi) from a Small Inland Lake

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Abstract

Conservation and management of rare fishes relies on managers having the most informed understanding of the underlying ecology of the species under investigation. Cisco (Coregonus artedi), a species of conservation concern, is a cold-water pelagic fish that is notoriously variable in morphometry and life history. Published reports indicate, at spawning time, Cisco in great lakes may migrate into or through large rivers, whereas those in small lakes move inshore. Nonetheless, during a sampling trip to Follensby Pond, a 393 ha lake in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, we observed gravid Cisco swimming over an outlet sill from a narrow shallow stream and into the lake. We opportunistically dip-netted a small subsample of 11 individuals entering the lake from the stream (three female, eight male) and compared them to fish captured between 2013 and 2015 with gillnets in the lake. Stream-captured Cisco were considerably larger than lake-captured individuals at a given age, had significantly larger asymptotic length, and were present only as mature individuals between age of 3 and age 5. These results could suggest either Cisco are migrating from a nearby lake to spawn in Follensby Pond, or that a distinct morphotype of Cisco from Follensby Pond migrates out to the stream and then back in at spawning time. Our results appear to complement a handful of other cases in which Cisco spawning migrations have been documented and to provide the first evidence for such behavior in a small inland lake.

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Ross, A. J., Weidel, B. C., Lenker, M. A., & Solomon, C. T. (2017). Evidence for Migratory Spawning Behavior by Morphologically Distinct Cisco (Coregonus artedi) from a Small Inland Lake. American Midland Naturalist, 178(2), 237–244. https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-178.2.237

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