Lake Ontario salmon (Salmo salar) were not migratory: A long-standing historical debate solved through stable isotope analysis
journal contributionposted on 12.08.2020, 11:09 by EJ Guiry, S Needs-Howarth, KD Friedland, AL Hawkins, P Szpak, R Macdonald, M Courtemanche, E Holm, MP Richards
Lake Ontario once supported a large complex of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) populations that became extinct prior to scientific study. Since the 1860s, research efforts to conserve and reintroduce a sustainable population of Atlantic Salmon have focused on determining whether Lake Ontario's original salmon populations had migrated to the Atlantic Ocean as part of their lifecycle (anadromy), stayed in the lake year-round (potamodromy), or both. We used stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope analyses of archaeological bones and historical museum-archived salmon scales to show that the original salmon populations from Lake Ontario completed their entire lifecycle without migrating to the Atlantic Ocean. With a time depth of more than 500 years, our findings provide a unique baseline with significant potential for informing modern restocking and conservation efforts.