Fish Recruitment and Early Life History


I define recruitment as the addition of new members of a population to the first life stage at which natural mortality stabilizes near adult levels. Understanding the process of recruitment is critical to interpreting and predicting the demographics and dynamics of populations and the broader community. This component of my research has sought to identify the mechanisms that regulate early life (i.e., egg, larval, juvenile) behavior, growth, and survival in freshwater and marine fishes, and in turn, help to:

  1. Determine when and how recruitment is set,
  2. Predict population demographics and dynamics,
  3. Understand patterns in community structure, and
  4. Develop appropriate management or conservation strategies.

Selected Projects

Short- and long-term effects of changing food quality on early life stages of walleye in the western basin of Lake Erie

Inland reservoir channel catfish assessment, stocking, and ecology

Assessing drivers of prey availability to sportfish in Ohio reservoirs

Selected Refereed Publications

  1. May, C.J., S.A. Ludsin, D. Glover, and E.A. Marschall. 2020. The influence of larval growth rate on juvenile recruitment in Lake Erie walleye (Sander vitreus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 77(3): 548-555.
  2. Dillon, R.A., J.D. Conroy, and S.A. Ludsin. 2019. Hydroacoustic data‐analysis recommendations to quantify prey‐fish abundance in shallow, target‐rich ecosystems. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 39:270-288.
  3. Marin Jarrin, J.R., T.B. Johnson, S.A. Ludsin, J.M. Reichert, and K.L. Pangle. 2018. Do models parameterized with observations from the system predict larval yellow perch (Perca flavescens) growth performance better in Lake Erie? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 75:82- 94.
  4. Carreon-Martinez, L.B., R.P. Walther, T.B. Johnson, S.A. Ludsin, and D.D. Heath. 2015. Benefits of turbid river plume habitat for Lake Erie yellow perch (Perca flavescens) recruitment determined by juvenile to larval genotype assignment. Plos One 10(5):e0125234.
  5. Marin Jarrin, J.R., K.L. Pangle, J.M. Reichert, T.B. Johnson, J. Tyson, and S.A. Ludsin. 2015. Influence of habitat heterogeneity on the foraging ecology of first feeding yellow perch larvae, Perca flavescens, in western Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research 41:208–214.
  6. Ludsin, S.A., K.M. DeVanna, and R.E.H. Smith. 2014. Physical-biological coupling and the challenge of understanding fish recruitment in large lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71:775-794.
  7. Dabrowski, K., M. Korzeniowska, T. Farmer, S.A. Ludsin, and E.A. Marschall. 2013. The function of wax esters in larval fish transition from endogenous to exogenous nutrition – are freshwater fish the exception or the rule? Communications in Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences 78:102-103.
  8. Pangle, K.L, T.D. Malinich, D.R. DeVries, D.B. Bunnell, and S.A. Ludsin. 2012. Context-dependent planktivory: interacting effects of turbidity and predation risk on adaptive foraging. Ecosphere 3(12): article 114.
  9. Carreon-Martinez, L.B., T.B. Johnson, S.A. Ludsin, and D.D. Heath. 2011. Utilization of stomach content DNA to determine diet diversity in piscivorous fish. Journal of Fish Biology 4:1170-1182.
  10. Reichert, J.M., B.J. Fryer, K.L. Pangle, T.B. Johnson, J.T. Tyson, A.B. Drelich, and S.A. Ludsin. 2010. River-plume use during the pelagic larval stage benefits recruitment of a lentic fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 67:987-1004.
  11. Lowe, M.R., D.R. DeVries, R.A. Wright, S.A. Ludsin, and B.J. Fryer. 2009. Coastal largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) movement in response to changing salinity. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 66:2174-2188.
  12. Mora, C., P.M. Chittaro, P.F. Sale, J.P. Kritzer, and S.A. Ludsin. 2003. Patterns and processes in reef fish diversity. Nature 421:933-936.
  13. Pine, W.E., S.A. Ludsin, and D.R. DeVries. 2000. First-summer survival of largemouth bass cohorts: is early spawning really best? Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 129:504-513.<0504:FSSOLB>2.0.CO;2
  14. Ludsin, S.A., and D.R. DeVries. 1997. First-year recruitment of largemouth bass: the interdependency of early life stages. Ecological Applications 7:1024-1038.

Relevant Funding

  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Fisheries Research Program.
    • “Physical processes and fish recruitment in large lakes: Phase II.” PI, 2016-2020.
    • “Physical-biological coupling and the challenge of understanding recruitment in large lakes.” PI, 2011-2014; Kristen DeVanna Fussell (former post-doc)
    • “A coupled physical-biological model to forecast larval yellow perch distributions, growth rates, and potential recruitment in Lake Erie.” Co-PI, 2011-2013; Kevin Pangle (former post-doc)
    • “Winter warming effects on yellow perch reproduction and recruitment.” PI, 2010-2013; Troy Farmer (former PhD student, former post-doc)
    • “River discharge as a predictor of Lake Erie yellow perch recruitment.” PI, 2006-2011; Julie Reichert (former MS student), Kevin Pangle (former post-doc)
    • “Experimental and spatial modeling of environmental factors affecting foraging success of age-0 yellow perch.” Co-PI, 2007-2010
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Project Funds
    • “FADR75: Is food quality limiting walleye recruitment in Lake Erie?” PI, 2015-2020. Zoe Almeida (PhD student)
    • “FADX09: Lower trophic level impacts on fish recruitment.” PI, 2011-2020.
    • “FADR79: Assessing prey availability to sportfish in Ohio reservoirs.” PI, 2016-2020. Rebecca Dillon (former PhD student)
    • “FADR67: The influences of hydrodynamics, early growth, and larval movement on walleye recruitment in the western basin of Lake Erie.” Co-PI, 2011-2013; Cassie May (former PhD student)
    • “FADR69: Role of biophysical coupling in walleye recruitment.” PI, 2011-2013; Mike Fraker (former post-doc), Kristen Devanna Fussell (former post-doc), Kevin Pangle (former post-doc)
    • “FADR62: Meteorological effects on Lake Erie yellow perch reproduction and recruitment.” PI, 2009-2013; Troy Farmer (former PhD student, former post-doc)
    • “FADR61: A bioenergetics-based evaluation of hybrid striped bass habitat quality in Ohio reservoirs.” PI, 2009-2012; Emily Burbacher (former MS student)
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: “Effects of hydrodynamic processes on Lake Erie walleye recruitment.” Co-PI, 2010-2013
  • Ohio Lake Erie Commission, Lake Erie Protection Fund: “Using satellite imagery for fisheries management.” PI, 2009-2010.