Detection of fish movement patterns across management unit boundaries using agestructured Bayesian hierarchical models with tag-recovery data
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Tagging studies have been widely conducted to investigate the movement pattern of wild fish populations. In this study, we present a set of length-based, age-structured Bayesian hierarchical models to explore variabilities and uncertainties in modeling tag-recovery data. These models fully incorporate uncertainties in age classifications of tagged fish based on length and uncertainties in estimated population structure. Results of a tagging experiment conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) on yellow perch in Lake Erie was analyzed as a case study. A total of 13,694 yellow perch were tagged with PIT tags from 2009 to 2015; 322 of these were recaptured in the Ontario commercial gillnet fishery and recorded by OMNRF personnel. Different movement configurations modeling the tag-recovery data were compared, and all configurations revealed that yellow perch individuals in the western basin (MU1) exhibited relatively strong site fidelity, and individuals from the central basin (MU2 and MU3) moved within this basin, but their movements to the western basin (MU1) appeared small. Model with random effects of year and age on movement had the best performance, indicating variations in movement of yellow perch across the lake among years and age classes. This kind of model is applicable to other tagging studies to explore temporal and age-class variations while incorporating uncertainties in age classification.