A conceptual model of Muskellunge spawning habitat
Undergraduate thesis, Department of Biology at McMaster University
The muskellunge is an economically important and often declining sport fish restricted to eastern and central North America. To assist research and management, especially in the Georgian Bay area, a conceptual model of muskellunge spawning habitat was developed from a meta-analysis of available peer-reviewed and technical literature. The model incorporates three primary variables: water temperature (7.5-15oC), dissolved oxygen (> 5 mg/L) at the sediment-water interface, and adequate separation of individual eggs after deposition. The model also assumes that muskellunge spawning occurs in wetlands because of their known association with aquatic vegetation. Secondary variables influencing primary conditions include (1) depth, current and substrate colour (assumed to have an effect on temperature); (2) current, sediment oxygen demand, sediment compactness and plant density (assumed to have an effect on dissolved oxygen concentrations); and (3) particle size and plant density (assumed to have an effect on egg separation). Field validation of these results will help to clarify the relative importance of each variable, and thus allow for refinement of the model.