Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Cooperation Among Anglers, Scientists, and Fisheries Biologists

Tracking Age-0 Northern Pike and Muskellunge: Monitoring Behavior and Habitat Use during Fall Out-Migration from Nursery Sites [Extended Abstract]

Austin J. Gallagher, Petra Szekeres, Steven J. Cooke, and John M. Farrell


Investigations into the spatial ecology of fishes in the wild allow us to better understand which factors (i.e., abiotic, biotic) are important for habitat selection on a species-specific basis. The tagging of adult individuals presents a size-based bias in research effort, likely due to their acute relevance and socioeconomic importance in fisheries (i.e., they are large enough to capture and harvest). While the ecological importance of subadults for stock health and recruitment is well-appreciated, tagging these individuals presents numerous logistical and operational challenges, namely the cryptic nature of the spatial ecology of subadult fish and the challenges of implanting telemetry devices into the body cavities of small fish. Here we present a brief summary of a study on the spatial ecology of age-0 Muskellunge Esox masquinongy and Northern Pike E. lucius using passive acoustic telemetry methods in the St. Lawrence River, USA. The spatial ecology of these species at these life stages, especially following emigration from summer nursery areas, has eluded researchers and remains cryptic (Farrell et al. 2007) despite its potential importance as a critical period in development and in light of recent conservation concerns over high natural mortality.