Biology, Management, and Culture of Walleye and Sauger

Chapter 7: Walleye and Sauger Life History

Michael A. Bozek, Dominic A. Baccante, and Nigel P. Lester


The life history of an organism is the series of chronological events that it experiences in order to survive, grow, mature, reproduce, and recruit to perpetuate the species. The genetic characteristics of each individual and of the population as a whole helps determine whether and how an organism responds to conditions in its environment to maximize its reproductive success (i.e., fitness). More specifically, a combination of the morphological and physiological traits allows organisms to respond to environmental conditions and dictates how it reacts to environmental stochasticity and competition, predation, and prey. These environmental conditions and ecological processes continually influence the genetic composition of a species, and on the other hand, also provide the template with which it can interact with them. In this chapter, life history events are chronicled as life stages, each having its own set of challenges and benefits that walleye and sauger must face to be successful in their respective environments. We first review the life history of walleye in detail and then synthesize our current understanding on how this species demonstrates its ecological and evolutionary success through its life history adaptations and approaches. We then briefly review the life history of sauger and compare and contrast it to the major life history events of walleye.