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The ecology of fish movement in six Lake Ontario tributaries

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The ecology of fish movement in six Lake Ontario tributaries

Dolinsek, Ivan J (2011) The ecology of fish movement in six Lake Ontario tributaries. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Despite a rich literature on the ecology of freshwater fishes, the movement behaviour of many stream fish remains poorly understood, yet is expected to be important for key ecological and micro-evolutionary processes. The main purpose of my thesis was to improve our understanding of fish movements by evaluating the movement of multiple species across multiple streams and entire watersheds. I undertook three steps to achieve this: 1) a comparative study addressing whether information in natural history accounts provide reliable information for predicting the behaviour of other populations of stream fishes (Chapter 1); 2) adapted, tested and extended existing theory on sex-biased arrival by conducting a broad test of four hypotheses on stream fishes at spawning sites (Chapter 2); and 3) to extend and contribute to a management concern of broad interest regarding invasive species control by examining the degree to which fishes move between adjacent streams (Chapter 3). Comparisons between my data and those from the literature demonstrated a strong correlation regarding key biological indices, suggesting that natural history information is a reliable source of information and can be used in most management decisions regarding freshwater stream fishes. My detailed data set also revealed novel findings unknown to the natural history literature: juveniles moved into the streams along with spawning adults; and species with known "anadromous-like" life histories spend more time in the streams than previously thought. Secondly, my data suggested that the most common form of sex-biased timing is males arriving before females, consistent with hypotheses that males are better able to cope with the prevailing conditions at the spawning sites, as well as to increase their reproductive success by encountering more females. However, there was considerable variation within and among species of fishes. Finally, my thesis suggested that the fish assemblages in these Lake Ontario catchments are dynamic, exchanging individuals at rates and spatial extents likely to be important for metapopulation dynamics and gene flow. Understanding the movement behaviour of fishes, a critical aspect of their life histories, will be important in developing proper conservation plans. Knowledge gained from this study will serve to improve our understanding of how concepts such as metapopulations, habitat fragmentation, and movement apply to stream fishes and to efforts to control invasive fish species.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Biology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Dolinsek, Ivan J
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Biology
Date:17 November 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Grant, James W.A. and McLaughlin, Robert L.
Keywords:Great Lakes, fish movement, PIT-tags, biodiversity, conservation, fish communities
ID Code:36268
Deposited By:IVAN DOLINSEK
Deposited On:20 Jun 2012 11:51
Last Modified:20 Jun 2012 11:51
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References:
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