Ecology, evolution, and management strategies of northern pike populations in the Baltic Sea

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Abstract

Baltic Sea populations of the northern pike (Esox lucius) have declined since the 1990s, and they face additional challenges due to ongoing climate change. Pike in the Baltic Sea spawn either in coastal bays or in freshwater streams and wetlands. Pike recruited in freshwater have been found to make up about 50 % of coastal pike stocks and to show natal homing, thus limiting gene flow among closely located spawning sites. Due to natal homing, sub-populations appear to be locally adapted to their freshwater recruitment environments. Management actions should therefore not involve mixing of individuals originating from different sub-populations. We offer two suggestions complying with this advice: (i) productivity of extant freshwater spawning populations can be boosted by modifying wetlands such that they promote spawning and recruitment; and (ii) new sub-populations that spawn in brackish water can potentially be created by transferring fry and imprinting them on seemingly suitable spawning environments.

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Larsson, P., Tibblin, P., Koch-Schmidt, P., Engstedt, O., Nilsson, J., Nordahl, O., & Forsman, A. (2015). Ecology, evolution, and management strategies of northern pike populations in the Baltic Sea. Ambio, 44, 451–461. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0664-6

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