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Using untapped telemetry data to explore the winter biology of freshwater fish

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Abstract

Winter is a challenging period for aquatic research—weather is uncomfortable, ice is hazardous, equipment fails, and daylength is short. Consequently, until recently relatively little research on freshwater fishes has included winter. Telemetry methods for tracking fish and observing movement behavior are an obvious solution to working in harsh conditions because much of the data can be collected remotely, and passive methods collect data year-round without winter maintenance. Yet, many telemetry studies do not collect data during winter or, if they do, only report data from the ice-free seasons while the remaining data are unused. Here, we briefly summarize the advantages and limitations of using telemetry methods in winter, including acoustic and radio telemetry and passive integrated transponder technology, then review the range of questions related to fish ecology, behavior, bioenergetics, and habitat use that can be addressed in winter using telemetry. Our goals are to highlight the untapped potential of winter fish biology and to motivate scientists to revisit their four-season telemetry data and incorporate objectives specific to winter biology in future study plans.

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Acknowledgements

We thank GLATOS for hosting a workshop that stimulated this paper, and the many colleagues who contributed to the discussion. This work was funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Grant ID #2013_BIN_44024) by way of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations (GL-00E23010). This paper is Contribution 80 of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS). JEM thanks members of the Rubenstein Ecosystem Sciences Lab for valuable discussion and ideas on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

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Marsden, J.E., Blanchfield, P.J., Brooks, J.L. et al. Using untapped telemetry data to explore the winter biology of freshwater fish. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 31, 115–134 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-021-09634-2

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