• Seasonal movements of arctic grayling in a small stream on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska

      Heim, Kurt C.; Wipfli, Mark; Seitz, Andrew; Falke, Jeffrey (2014-08)
      In watersheds of the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) of Alaska, Arctic Grayling adopt a migratory life history strategy to persist in a landscape with long (~ 8 month), cold winters that cause shallow aquatic habitats to freeze solid. We investigated movement patterns of adult and juvenile Arctic Grayling in a shallow beaded stream (Crea Creek), a dominant headwater stream type on the ACP. From 2012–2013 Arctic Grayling (N = 1035) were tagged with passive integrated transponder tags and monitored using an array of stream-wide antennae. Migration into Crea Creek peaked immediately after ice break-up in the main channel of the study area. Fish caught within the stream in June were in relatively poor body condition compared to fish captured later in summer. In both years, fish entering the stream during high flow and colder temperatures swam farther upstream than those entering during low flow and warmer temperatures. Migration of adult fish out of the stream was most strongly correlated with decreasing stream discharge, whereas juvenile downstream migration occurred in two peaks and was negatively correlated to minimum stream temperature and discharge. Among juveniles, fish of larger size and higher body condition tended to emigrate earlier. These results indicate that the population level migratory response is strongly tied to seasonal changes in hydrology, though heterogeneity among individuals also influences the response to seasonal change. This work demonstrates the importance of environmental cues, and surface-water flow mediated connectivity during the open-water period, and provides information needed to identify susceptibilities of migratory fishes to climate change and petroleum development on the ACP.