Unveiling the recovery dynamics of walleye after the invisible collapse

Walleye (Sander vitreus) populations in Alberta, Canada, collapsed by the mid-1990s and were a case study in the paper Canada’s Recreational Fisheries: The Invisible Collapse? Here we fit age-structured population dynamics models to data from a landscape-scale monitoring program to assess walleye population status and reconstruct recruitment dynamics following the invisible collapse. Assessments indicated that populations featured low Fmsy values of approximately 0.2–0.3 under conservative assumptions for the stock–recruitment relationship but that many populations were lightly exploited during 2000–2018. Recruitment reconstructions showed that recovery from collapse in 33/55 lakes was driven in part by large positive recruitment anomalies that occurred during 1998–2002. Additionally, 15/55 lakes demonstrated cyclic recruitment dynamics. The documented recruitment anomalies and cyclic fluctuations could be due to environmental effect(s) or cannibalism, and experimentation is likely necessary to resolve this uncertainty. These findings contribute new information on the recovery dynamics of walleye following the invisible collapse and demonstrate the effectiveness of coupling traditional fisheries science models with broad-scale monitoring data to improve understanding of population dynamics and sustainability across landscapes.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Short Name of Publication unveiling-the-recovery-dynamics-of-walleye-after-the-invisible-collapse
Deliverable Type Journal article
Program Catagory
Program Type Provincial
Author Cahill, C. L., Walters, C. J., Paul, A. J., Sullivan, M. G., and Post, J. R.
Periodical Title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Year of Publication 2021
Publishing Organization
Month of Publication October
Periodical Volumes
Page Range
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2021-0065
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