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GLIN==> News Release - There's No Place Like Home For Pike


Contact: Marie Zhuikov
(218) 726-7677


Salmon aren't the only fish species that return to their birth place to
spawn.  Research published in a recent volume of Transactions of the
American Fisheries Society suggests that northern pike in large lakes
also return home.  Through genetic and field studies, University of
Minnesota Sea Grant researcher Loren Miller of the Department of
Fishers and Wildlife and his colleagues produced evidence that pike in
Lake Kabetogama, Voyageurs National Park, tend to spawn at the site of
their birth.  

"The fact that these fish return to their natal grounds has
implications for fisheries management," said Miller.  "The notion that
there might be different stocks and a potential for biological
differences between them makes each spawning site more valuable."

Ichthyologists, those people who study fish, have known for years that
northern pike leave their territories to return to the spawning-sites
they used in previous years.  But now, through increasingly-sensitive
genetic techniques, researchers can say that they are returning "home"
to their birth sites.

"This may be a behavioral feature of several fish species in relatively
large waterbodies," said Miller.  "Walleye in Lake Erie, like the pike
we studied in Lake Kabetogama, run up streams to spawn and have a
population structure that suggests they are returning to their natal
sites."  Other studies indicate that smallmouth bass and yellow perch
in large lakes also return to their natal sites to spawn.  

To thrive, northern pike need relatively clean water, adequate forage,
and abundant shoreline marshes and wetlands for spawning.  Many
spawning areas, however, are being lost to drainage, dredging, and
shoreline development.  For northern pike, which can grow to over 40
inches (1 m), weigh 19 pounds (8.6 kg), and live over a decade,
individual spawning grounds, especially on large lakes, are important
to protect.  

For a free copy of Miller's journal reprint, "Spawning-Site and
Natal-Site Fidelity by Northern Pike in a Large Lake: Mark-Recapture
and Genetic Evidence," contact Minnesota Sea Grant at (218) 726-8106 or
seagr@d.umn.edu.  Ask for item JR 453.


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