Spatiotemporal segregation by migratory phenotype indicates potential for assortative mating in lake sturgeon

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Migratory diversity can promote population differentiation if sympatric phenotypes become temporally, spatially, or behaviorally segregated during breeding. In this study, the potential for spatiotemporal segregation was tested among three migratory phenotypes of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) that spawn in the St. Clair River of North America’s Laurentian Great Lakes but differ in how often they migrate into the river and in which direction they move after spawning. Acoustic telemetry over 9 years monitored use of two major spawning sites by lake sturgeon that moved north to overwinter in Lake Huron or south to overwinter in Lake St. Clair. Lake St. Clair migrants were further distinguished by whether they migrated into the St. Clair River each year (annual migrants) or intermittently (intermittent migrants). Social network analyses indicated lake sturgeon generally co-occurred with individuals of the same migratory phenotype more often than with different migratory phenotypes. A direct test for differences in space use revealed one site was almost exclusively visited by Lake St. Clair migrants whereas the other site was visited by Lake Huron migrants, intermittent Lake St. Clair migrants, and, to a lesser extent, annual Lake St. Clair migrants. Analysis of arrival and departure dates indicated opportunity for co-occurrence at the site visited by all phenotypes but showed Lake Huron migrants arrived approximately 2 weeks before Lake St. Clair migrants. Taken together, our results indicated partial spatiotemporal segregation of migratory phenotypes that may generate assortative mating and promote population differentiation.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatiotemporal segregation by migratory phenotype indicates potential for assortative mating in lake sturgeon
Series title Oecologia
DOI 10.1007/s00442-022-05280-y
Volume 201
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 953
Last page 964
Country Canada, United States
State Michigan, Ontario
Other Geospatial Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River
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