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Local diversity in phenological responses of migratory lake sturgeon to warm winters

March 28, 2022

Rich intraspecific diversity in traits that shape responses to environmental conditions implies that effects of climate change will differ within species or even populations. Nevertheless, few studies investigate how different groups within species respond to climatic fluctuations, and most risk assessments rely upon species-wide generalizations. We studied effects of among-year variation in air temperature on the spring migratory phenology of a metapopulation of lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens within waters connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Sturgeon here express multiple migratory phenotypes that all spawn in either the St. Clair River or Detroit River but differ in their use after spawning of more than 86 000 km2 of accessible lake and river habitat. Acoustic tracking over nine years (2012–2020) revealed mixed phenological responses to late-winter air temperatures, with three migratory groups arriving at rivers earlier during warm years and one whose arrival was consistent across years regardless of temperature. Notably, two groups that spawn in the same river but overwinter in different lakes entered the river with greater synchrony during warm years because one advanced its phenology while the other did not. The results indicated warm weather could alter the dynamics of the metapopulation and broader community, and exemplify the complexity hidden beneath broadscale generalizations of species' response to climate change.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Local diversity in phenological responses of migratory lake sturgeon to warm winters
DOI 10.1111/oik.08977
Authors Tyler J. Buchinger, Darryl W. Hondorp, Charles C. Krueger
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Oikos
Series Number
Index ID 70230665
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center

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