Biology, Management, and Culture of Walleye and Sauger

Chapter 6: Reproduction and Environmental Biology

Bruce A. Barton and Terence P. Barry


The intent of this chapter is to summarize general physiological, organismal, health, and related biological information about walleye and sauger as a reference for field biologists, managers, and fish culturists. The chapter is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the physiology and reproductive biology of walleye and sauger, of which relatively little is known. Additional detail is provided on fish reproductive endocrinology at the beginning of this chapter as a foundation for understanding the endocrine events that occur during reproduction of these species. Further details of basic anatomy and physiology of walleye and other percid fishes can be found in published texts, notably Craig (1987, 2000). A short but excellent popular article describing the structures and mechanics underlying sensory processes in walleye, particularly vision and sound detection, is provided by Carlson (2010).

Reproductive development and spawning in fish is regulated by environmental cues such as photoperiod and temperature that are transduced into hormonal signals that, in turn, mediate the processes of gamete development, maturation, and spawning. A brief review of the reproductive endocrine system of teleosts (i.e., the brain–pituitary–gonad axis) is presented to provide context for understanding the reproductive physiology of the walleye and sauger.