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Assessment of natal origin of pike (Esox lucius) in the Baltic Sea using Sr:Ca in otoliths
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences. (Fish Ecology group)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences. (Fish Ecology Group)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences. (Fish Ecology Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0344-1939
Fiskeriverket.
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2010 (English)In: Environmental Biology of Fishes, ISSN 0378-1909, E-ISSN 1573-5133, Vol. 89, p. 547-555Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Spawning habitat of pike (Esox lucius) in the Baltic Sea include brackish water bays, brooks and rivers. Elevated salinity concentrations are one of several stressors that might increase the use and importance of freshwater habitats for spawning. In the Baltic Sea, one of the largest brackish seas in the world, freshwater species like pike, perch (Perca fluviatilis), whitefish (Coregonus sp), bream (Abramis brama), ide (Leuciscus idus), roach (Rutilus rutilus) and burbot (Lola iota) all undertake spawning migrations to freshwater. However, over the last decades populations densities of these species have declined, and recruitment failure has been argued to be at least part of the problem. The importance of brooks and rivers as spawning areas for these species have not been quantified and set in relation to spawning success in brackish bays. In this study, we collected 175 adult pike (Esox lucius) on their foraging grounds in the sea. Fish were collected in two regions on the Baltic coast, more than 600 km apart. Subsequently we determined their origin (freshwater or marine) using otolith chemistry. Sagittal otoliths were analysed for strontium using the PIXE-method. The results show that 80 of the 175 pike were recruited in freshwater, and several of the larger specimens showed reoccurring migration behaviour. Data show that freshwater is an important recruitment habitat for Baltic Sea pike, suggesting that habitat improvements in rivers entering the Baltic Sea might significantly contribute to population restoration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 89, p. 547-555
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science, Aquatic Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-6937DOI: 10.1007/s10641-010-9686-xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-6937DiVA, id: diva2:332119
Projects
Fish spawning migration in the Baltic SeaAvailable from: 2010-08-02 Created: 2010-08-02 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Anadromous Pike in the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Anadromous Pike in the Baltic Sea
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The pike (Esox lucius) is a major predator and top-down regulator in the Baltic Sea where it exists in two sympatric forms. One spawn in streams and rivers and the other one spawn in the sea. During the last decades, the habitats for both of these forms have developed in a negative way. In some freshwater systems, up to 90 % of the water areas have disappeared, mainly through drainage and straightening of watercourses for agricultural purposes. In the sea, reproduction habitats decrease due to construction of harbours and human activities that create disturbances. The perhaps largest single factor negatively affecting recruitment of pike in the sea is the eutrophication. Bottoms are overgrown with filamentous algae and shallow bays are covered with dense Phragmites belts decreasing the habitats suitable for spawning. Further on, a predator on egg and fish larvae, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) has increased in abundance. It is difficult to restore and enhance pike production in the sea and probably the only economically viable alternative is to make restorations in freshwater. However, there is a limited knowledge about the freshwater spawning pike in the Baltic Sea. Thus in this thesis I, together with my coauthors, set out with an aim to increase the knowledge base regarding anadromous pike behaviour.

We found that pike of natal freshwater origin were common in the Baltic Sea. Through Sr:Ca studies in otoliths, about 45 % of the pike were interpreted to be of freshwater origin. The majority of the pike had emigrated out of freshwater at a length below 6 cm. These results indicate that freshwater recruitment is successful, contrasting the vast areas available for spawning in the sea. This creates incitements that restoration measures in these watercourses could have a significant effect on the pike population in the Baltic Sea.

Further, in four streams running out in the Baltic Sea, more than three thousand pike were marked to study spawning migration. About 30-40 % returned to the same river the subsequent year. Most of the pike used the lower parts of the stream for spawning. The homing of pike to a watercourse indicate that freshwater pike in the Baltic Sea consist of specific populations and this is crucial information when taking decisions on fish restoration measures.

Three wetlands adjacent to streams were restored for pike production. The most successful restoration involved minimal digging, with flooded grasslands providing optimal conditions for spawning. The first spawning season after restoration increased the pike production hundredfold.

In conclusion, the anadromous pike are numerous in the Baltic Sea. To compensate for the decline in pike populations in the sea, “pike-factories” created along the coastline are probably the most justifiable option.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö, Kalmar: Linnaeus University Press, 2011. p. 110
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 61/2011
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-13856 (URN)978-91-86491-99-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-09-16, Fullriggaren, Barlastgatan 11, Kalmar, 09:30 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-28 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2016-11-09Bibliographically approved

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Engstedt, OlofStenroth, PatrikLarsson, Per

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