Environmental and Endogenous Factors Influencing Emigration in Juvenile Anadromous Alewives
We analyzed juvenile anadromous alewife migration at Bride Lake, a coastal lake in Connecticut, during summer 2006 and found that migration on 24-hour and seasonal timescales was influenced by conditions of the environment and characteristics of the individual. To identify environmental cues of juvenile migration, we continuously video recorded fish at the lake outflow and employed information-theoretic model selection to identify the best predictors of daily migration rate. More than 80% of the approximately 320,000 juveniles that migrated from mid-June to mid-August departed in three pulses lasting one or two days. Pulses of migration were associated with precipitation events, transient decreases in water temperature and transient increases in stream discharge. Diel timing of migration shifted over the summer. Early in the season most migration occurred around dawn; late in the season migration occurred at night. To identify individual characteristics associated with migratory behavior, we compared migrating juveniles that we collected as they were exiting Bride Lake to non-migrating juveniles that we collected from the center of the lake. Migrants were a non-random subset of the population; they were on average 1 - 12 mm larger, 2 - 14 d older, had grown more rapidly (11% greater length-at-age), and were in better condition (14% greater mass-at-length) than non-migrant fish. We infer that the amount of accumulated energy has a positive effect on the net benefit of migration at any time in the migratory season.