Synthesizing Professional Opinion and Published Science to Build a Conceptual Model of Walleye Recruitment

Corey A. Krabbenhoft, Stuart A. Ludsin, Elizabeth A. Marschall, Richard R. Budnik, L. Zoe Almeida, Christopher L. Cahill, Holly S. Embke, Zachary S. Feiner, Patrick J. Schmalz, Matt J. Thorstensen, Michael J. Weber, Melissa R. Wuellner, Gretchen J.A. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Understanding and predicting recruitment, longstanding goals in fisheries science and ecology, are complicated by variation in the importance of environmental drivers coupled with the dynamic nature of individual ecosystems. Developing an understanding of recruitment from well-monitored stocks offers an opportunity to overcome these complexities. We used a systematic literature review, a survey, and a workshop attended by professionals with expertise in recruitment of Walleye Sander vitreus to identify common environmental drivers of Walleye recruitment and additional sources of variation (i.e., context dependencies) among populations. The importance of individual environmental drivers, as well as the direction of their influence, differed as a function of geographic region, lake surface area, and Walleye life stage. The literature suggested abiotic conditions (e.g., temperature) during the first year of life were influential in determining recruitment. Professional opinion noted the importance of biotic factors, with prey availability and predation risk having the most consistent relationships with recruitment. We synthesized this information to propose a conceptual model that illustrates the suite of characteristics that shape Walleye recruitment over large spatial and temporal scales. Our findings emphasize the importance of first-year growth and system-specific contextual factors, which can alter the relative importance of the environmental drivers of recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-156
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Fisheries published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Fisheries Society.


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