Does hatchery rearing of lake trout affect their reproductive behavior in the wild?

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 



Stocking of hatchery-reared fishes has been used with variable success as a management action to promote the recovery of populations and species. The practice has been controversial for several reasons, including uncertainty about whether the hatchery rearing experience may affect reproduction after release. Fine-scale acoustic telemetry was used during three spawning seasons to test whether hatchery rearing affects the reproductive behavior of lake trout using a spawning shoal complex in northern Lake Huron. Within sex, wild- and hatchery-reared fish behaved similarly, but significant behavioral differences occurred between sexes. Lake trout of both sexes moved synchronously onto the spawning shoals at the completion of autumn thermal turnover and occupied the same spawning sites (confirmed visually by presence of fertilized eggs) on the shoals. Male lake trout tended to congregate directly on spawning sites, with duration of occupancy varying greatly among years. Female lake trout spent less time on spawning shoals than males and congregated less at spawning sites on shoals. Most fish visited multiple spawning sites among shoals per season, with many making multiple transits among individual spawning sites. We found no evidence to support the hypothesis that hatchery rearing impairs spawning behavior of lake trout and, therefore, conclude that behavior deficiencies on the spawning ground are likely not an impediment to rehabilitation of lake trout in northern Lake Huron. Our study narrows the field of possible impediments to lake trout rehabilitation in the Great Lakes and provides insights that expand the conceptual model of lake trout spawning behavior.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Does hatchery rearing of lake trout affect their reproductive behavior in the wild?
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2022.11.002
Volume 49
Issue 1
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 288
Last page 302
Country United States
State Michigan
Other Geospatial Drummond Island
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