Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Migrating adult Alewives Alosa pseudoharengus are a source of marine-derived nutrients on the East Coast of North America, importing nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater habitats. Juvenile migrants subsequently transport freshwater-derived nutrients into the ocean. We developed a deterministic model to explore the theoretical nutrient dynamics of Alewife migrations at differing spawner abundances. Net nutrient balance was calculated relative to these abundances along the spawner–recruit curve. The ecological consequences of these subsidies in a particular watershed depend on the magnitude of adult escapement relative to the habitat's carrying capacity for juveniles. At low escapement levels and assuming complete habitat access, the number of recruits produced per spawner was high and juvenile nutrient export dominated. At high escapement levels, fewer recruits were produced per spawner because recruitment is density dependent. As a result, adult nutrient import dominated. At varying levels of freshwater productivity and fisheries mortality for upstream spawners, this trend remained the same while the magnitude of the endpoints changed. Productivity level was the major determinant of export, while fisheries mortality had the strongest effect on adult import. The dynamics of this nutrient trade-off are important for managers to consider as a recovering population will likely shift from net export to net import as escapement increases. This transition will be sensitive to both harvest rates and to fish passage efficacy at dams and other barriers.

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Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science


American Fisheries Society

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© 2018 The Authors.


This is an Open Access article published by American Fisheries Society in Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science in 2018, available online: