Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Ecology of Freshwater Fish 25:4 (2016), pp 504–517


US government work.


Determining the factors that influence recruitment to sequential ontogenetic stages is critical for understanding recruitment dynamics of fish and for effective management of sportfish, particularly in dynamic and unpredictable environments. We sampled walleye (Sander vitreus) and white bass (Morone chrysops) at 3 ontogenetic stages (age 0 during spring: ‘age-0 larval’; age 0 during autumn: ‘age-0 juvenile’; and age 1 during autumn: ‘age-1 juvenile’) from 3 reservoirs. We developed multiple linear regression models to describe factors influencing age-0 larval, age-0 juvenile and age-1 juvenile walleye and white bass abundance indices. Our models explained 40–80% (68 ± 9%; mean ± SE) and 71%–97% (81 ± 6%) of the variability in catch for walleye and white bass respectively. For walleye, gizzard shad were present in the candidate model sets for all three ontogenetic stages we assessed. For white bass, there was no unifying variable in all three stage-specific candidate model sets, although walleye abundance was present in two of the three white bass candidate model sets. We were able to determine several factors affecting walleye and white bass year-class strength at multiple ontogenetic stages; comprehensive analyses of factors influencing recruitment to multiple early ontogenetic stages are seemingly rare in the literature. Our models demonstrate the interdependency among early ontogenetic stages and the complexities involved with sportfish recruitment.