Pattern of shoreline spawning by sockeye salmon in a glacially turbid lake: evidence for subpopulation differentiation

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

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Alaskan sockeye salmon typically spawn in lake tributaries during summer (early run) and along clear-water lake shorelines and outlet rivers during fall (late run). Production at the glacially turbid Tustumena Lake and its outlet, the Kasilof River (south-central Alaska), was thought to be limited to a single run of sockeye salmon that spawned in the lake's clear-water tributaries. However, up to 40% of the returning sockeye salmon enumerated by sonar as they entered the lake could not be accounted for during lake tributary surveys, which suggested either substantial counting errors or that a large number of fish spawned in the lake itself. Lake shoreline spawning had not been documented in a glacially turbid system. We determined the distribution and pattern of sockeye salmon spawning in the Tustumena Lake system from 1989 to 1991 based on fish collected and radiotagged in the Kasilof River. Spawning areas and time were determined for 324 of 413 sockeye salmon tracked upstream into the lake after release. Of these, 224 fish spawned in tributaries by mid-August and 100 spawned along shoreline areas of the lake during late August. In an additional effort, a distinct late run was discovered that spawned in the Kasilof River at the end of September. Between tributary and shoreline spawners, run and spawning time distributions were significantly different. The number of shoreline spawners was relatively stable and independent of annual escapement levels during the study, which suggests that the shoreline spawning component is distinct and not surplus production from an undifferentiated run. Since Tustumena Lake has been fully deglaciated for only about 2,000 years and is still significantly influenced by glacier meltwater, this diversification of spawning populations is probably a relatively recent and ongoing event.

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Pattern of shoreline spawning by sockeye salmon in a glacially turbid lake: evidence for subpopulation differentiation
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Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
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Alaska Biological Science Center
pp. 1-15
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