Variation of cisco egg size among Laurentian Great Lakes populations

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 



Many fish species display inter-population and inter-individual egg size variation. Intra-specific differences in egg size seemingly reflect both energetic experiences of individual spawning fish and long-term population responses to differing ecosystems. Optimal egg size theory implies that selection influences a population’s mean egg size in response to its early-life environment, given the well-established trade-off between egg size and fecundity. Currently, there is strong interest in rehabilitation of Laurentian Great Lakes cisco, Coregonus artedi, which is characterized by inter-population variation of morphological and behavioral traits. However, the extent of cisco egg size variation is under-described. In fall 2018 and 2019, we collected egg samples by stripping ripe females at seven total locations in four Great Lakes. We measured unfertilized egg diameters using imaging software and compared mean egg diameters among locations with and without including maternal total length as a covariate. Lake Michigan females produced the largest eggs overall but were excluded from analyses using the total length covariate because of their significantly larger body sizes. Maternal length had a positive effect on egg size, and when accounting for this effect, females in Lake Huron produced the largest eggs followed by Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. We also found that egg size varied among locations within Lake Superior. These findings aligned with observations of morphological and behavioral differences among populations and suggest that cisco phenotypic variation at a fine spatial scale extends to reproductive biology. Consideration of cisco reproductive traits, such as egg size, may inform restoration strategies, including supplemental stocking.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Variation of cisco egg size among Laurentian Great Lakes populations
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2022.03.006
Volume 48
Issue 3
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 790
Last page 797
Country Canada, United States
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