Pike (Esox lucius L.) on the edge: consistent individual movement patterns in transitional waters of the western Baltic

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Pike in the western Baltic Sea live on the edge of their salinity tolerance. Under physiologically challenging conditions, organism may respond by moving to environmentally more benign areas during critical periods, such as during spawning. We hypothesised that pike in a brackish lagoon (8–10 ppt salinity) would perform spawning- and feeding-related movements between areas with different salinity regimes. Twenty-two pike were caught prior to spawning, tagged with acoustic transmitters, and their movements were tracked for 18 months. Pike showed two main patterns of movements that were consistent within individuals across two years. Whereas some individuals stayed in the lagoon year-round, most pike left the lagoon for longer periods after spawning and returned to the lagoon prior to following year’s spawning season. We found no evidence that probability of moving out of the lagoon co-varied with either length or condition factor. Despite the fact that the lagoon’s salinity is close to the reported upper limit for pike egg development, results indicated that all pike spawned in the lagoon. Correspondingly, genetic data showed that all fish belonged to the same reproductive population unit. Movement patterns thus appear to reflect individual variation in home-range and/or resource optimisation following ideal free principles.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)143–154
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Aquatic Science
  • Brackish water pike
  • Movement patterns
  • Salinity tolerance
  • Spawning

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