Thermoregulation is presumed to be a widespread determinant of behaviour in fishes, but has not often been investigated as a mechanism shaping long-distance migrations. We used acoustic telemetry and animal-borne thermal loggers to test the hypothesis that seasonal migration in adult walleye (Sander vitreus) in Lake Erie is size-and (or) sex-specific and related to behavioural thermoregulation. Female walleye migrated out of the warm, shallow western basin earlier than did males and were 1.8 times more likely to be detected on acoustic receivers in the deeper and cooler eastern basin. The few fish that remained in the western basin were restricted to a smaller range of higher temperatures (≥20 °C) than those that migrated to the central and eastern basins (~16-21°C). However, temperature records from walleye in the central basin were nearly indistinguishable from those in the eastern basin, suggesting thermal preferences alone could not explain migration to the eastern basin. As such, our effort to understand the mechanisms that cause migratory behaviours has generated mixed evidence on the role of temperature and that factors like foraging opportunities may have synergistic roles in the migration.

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Journal Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Raby, G.D. (Graham D.), Vandergoot, C.S. (Christopher S.), Hayden, T.A. (Todd A.), Faust, M.D. (Matthew D.), Kraus, R.T. (Richard T.), Dettmers, J.M. (John M.), … Krueger, C.C. (Charles C.). (2018). Does behavioural thermoregulation underlie seasonal movements in lake erie walleye?. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 75(3), 488–496. doi:10.1139/cjfas-2017-0145