Habitat restoration is an important tool used to conserve biodiversity and restore species, but its effects are notoriously difficult to predict. Although outcomes of restoration projects are usually assessed using indices of species abundance and diversity, phenotypic differences among individuals within species are likely associated with differing responses to restored habitats. Here, we use lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) as a case study to illustrate how responses to habitat restoration can differ between phenotypes and potentially lead to unanticipated effects on populations. North America’s St. Clair River supports one of the largest remaining populations of lake sturgeon but has lost much spawning habitat due to its role as a major industrial corridor between the Laurentian Great Lakes Erie and Huron. Two artificial reefs were recently built in the lower and middle segments of the river to increase the available sturgeon spawning habitat. Interestingly, lake sturgeon in the St. Clair River express different migratory phenotypes that may be associated with different likelihoods of colonizing artificial reefs. Acoustic telemetry revealed that artificial reefs were more likely to be used by sturgeon that migrated downstream to overwinter in Lake St. Clair than those that migrated upstream to overwinter in Lake Huron. Furthermore, increasing time spent at the artificial reefs by Lake St. Clair migrants was associated with later arrival to and shorter occupancy of the river’s only natural spawning site, the primary location where the two phenotypes have opportunity to interbreed. Additional research is necessary to determine the ultimate impacts of the artificial reefs on lake sturgeon populations; nevertheless, our study showed phenotype-specific opportunity to colonize restored habitat and a mechanism through which this could lead to changes in gene flow. Our results illustrate the importance of considering intra-specific diversity when planning restoration projects and assessing the effects on populations.
|Title||Intra-specific variation in responses to habitat restoration: Could artificial reefs increase spatiotemporal segregation between migratory phenotypes of lake sturgeon?|
|Authors||Tyler J. Buchinger, Darryl W. Hondorp, Charles C. Krueger|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Ecological Indicators|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Great Lakes Science Center|