Out of the bottleneck: Bighead Carp spawning and overwinter survival in a warming climate

Erik K. Dean, D. Andrew R. Drake, Nicholas E. Mandrak


23 February 2023

Abstract:   Bighead Carp threatens to invade the Laurentian Great Lakes, but there is uncertainty about whether winter conditions encountered during northward expansion could impose a population bottleneck. Young-of-year (age-0), a critical life stage, are especially vulnerable to starvation due to their reduced size and capacity to store energy, and are often implicated in population bottlenecks at northern latitudes. By modelling how climate warming could affect spawn timing, growth, and the onset and duration of winter, we explored how the recruitment and overwinter survival of young-of-year Bighead Carp could change in response to climate change. Projected warming trends could reduce overwinter starvation and provide young-of-year more opportunity for growth prior to the onset of winter. Given that young-of-year are highly influential to population performance, increases in temperature that help them overcome overwinter starvation could contribute significantly to changes in the overall risk of invasion.

Society for Canadian Aquatic Sciences Annual Meeting