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Locomotor activity patterns of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) assessed using tri-axial acceleration sensing acoustic transmitters

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The trade-off between remaining stationary and being active has consequences for the survival and growth of fishes. Recent advancements in telemetry tools have enabled researchers to assess activity patterns of free-swimming fishes using tri-axial acceleration-sensing acoustic transmitters. This study describes the summer activity patterns of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in an 8 km reach of the Rideau River, Ontario between 1 June and 20 August 2010. Acceleration measurements indicated that muskellunge tended to remain inactive for much of the time. The effect of time of day (i.e., diel patterns), water temperature, and fish size were also examined. Activity was lowest at dawn, increased throughout the day, peaked at dusk, and declined at night. Activity also declined above temperatures of 25 °C and was lower for larger muskellunge. A comparison of fish captured with rod and reel versus boat electrofisher failed to reveal a significant difference in behaviour. The results of this study illustrate the utility of accelerometer transmitters for studying the behavioural ecology of free-swimming fishes. The results also confirm that muskellunge are generally sedentary during the summer period, but do exhibit reasonably pronounced diel activity patterns.

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We thank the Hugh C. Becker Foundation, Muskies Canada, Inc. (MCI), and Muskies, Inc. for providing financial support necessary to complete this project. Additional financial support was provided by the NSERC (in the form of an RTI to S. Cooke), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Canada Research Chairs Program. Landsman was partially supported by fellowships from Carleton University. Arlinghaus acknowledges funding by the Adaptfish and Btypes projects (both funded within the Pact for Innovation and Research of the Leibniz-Association) and Besatzfisch grant (German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (# 01UU0907). We also wish to thank members of the Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Lab and the many MCI volunteers that provided critical assistance in the field. We thank Dr. Karen Murchie for providing comments on a previous version of this manuscript. This manuscript also benefited from comments by several anonymous reviewers. All sampling protocols were conducted in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Canadian Council on Animal Care administered by Carleton University.

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Correspondence to Sean J. Landsman.

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Landsman, S.J., Martins, E.G., Gutowsky, L.F.G. et al. Locomotor activity patterns of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) assessed using tri-axial acceleration sensing acoustic transmitters. Environ Biol Fish 98, 2109–2121 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-015-0433-1

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  • Muskellunge
  • Activity
  • Behaviour
  • Accelerometer
  • Locomotion