Predicting larval alewife transport in Lake Michigan using hydrodynamic and Lagrangian particle dispersion models

Limnology and Oceanography
By: , and 



Several species of fish in large lakes and marine environments have a pelagic larval stage, and are subject to variable transport that can ultimately regulate survival and recruitment success. Alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus, are subject to transport by complex coastal currents during their pelagic larval stage (~ 30 d). We assessed backward-trajectory simulations, consisting of a Lagrangian particle dispersion model linked to the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model, to estimate likely hatch locations of aged larval alewife collected from locations on both the eastern and western sides of Lake Michigan during July 2015. We used four deployments of three satellite-tracked drifter buoys in coastal waters to assess model skill in estimating the origin of a drifter from its final location. We found that the trajectories of drifters varied greatly, depending on wind events and associated coastal transport processes, including upwelling/downwelling and coastal jet currents. In 2 of 12 cases, the backward trajectory simulations failed to predict the drifter origin, associated with transport of 170 km in a narrow coastal jet current. In the remaining 10 cases, the known drifter origin was within 3.5 km of the spatial patch of predicted possible origins for a scenario of horizontal diffusivity (188 m2 s−1) consistent with the offshore model grid resolution. Modeled backward trajectories estimated that alewife originated from the same side of the lake where they were collected, within ~ 100 km of the collection site. Our paper demonstrates the utility of hydrodynamic models to estimate a region of origin for aged larval fish.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Predicting larval alewife transport in Lake Michigan using hydrodynamic and Lagrangian particle dispersion models
Series title Limnology and Oceanography
DOI 10.1002/lno.12186
Volume 67
Issue 9
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 2042
Last page 2058
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan
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