2017 - NECC
RACER Pre-proposal Proposal

Name: Dr. Lori LaPlante
Institution/Firm: Other
Address: Department Of Biology
100 Saint Anselm Drive
Box 1742
Manchester, NH 03102
Email: llaplante@anselm.edu
Telephone: (603) 641-7163
Project Title: Using nano sensors to record winter activity and spawning behavior in Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
Abstract: Freshwater fish populations in temperate regions are subject to a wide range of temperatures. The Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) is a freshwater fish that plays an important ecological role in freshwater communities, as prey to many popular game fishes (e.g. yellow perch) and predator to many invertebrates. Changes to Pumpkinseed populations would have cascading effects on other species in the ecosystem by disrupting food webs.

Pumpkinseed overwinter in lakes and ponds and winterkills can get as high as 85% of the local population (Fox and Keast, 1990). Such extreme changes can affect the life history and population sizes. Very little information exists on Pumpkinseed behavior during winter months and even less on the relationship between postwinter activity and individual reproductive success. The limited number of studies during winter months is in large part due to challenges associated with winter field work (cold/freezing temperatures, collecting/tracking fish through or below ice, access to field sites). We propose an automated method of tracking fish that reduces man hours in the field.

Some studies suggest freshwater fish form aggregations during winter months. There are tradeoffs in forming aggregations, however, such as costs resulting from competition for food and benefits such as reduced predation by the dilution factor. Our study proposes to track Pumpkinseed, a solitary species, from fall to spring to determine whether temperature change drives group formation in the species. Our sensor network will allow us to collect detailed data on individual fish (IDs), their depth, minute-by-minute activity, and water temperatures year round. A receiver will collect and store data, and those data will be analyzed /visualized by connecting to the partner facility. The final results will be posted on a web page and made available to the public.

Male reproductive success may be influenced by male condition upon emerging from overwintering. In early spring male Pumpkinseed migrate from overwintering sites to shallow waters (< 1 m) in sandy or rocky habitats (Popiel et al., 1996) for nest excavation. Male condition upon emerging from overwintering sites can vary depending on individual levels of activity and foraging. In bluegill, a close relative to the Pumpkinseed, Aday et al (2002) found that larger males had greater reproductive success (based on egg counts in nests), and a recent study by Cogliati et al (2010) suggested that males with condition-dependent sexual ornaments influenced female choice. Males in our study will be tagged with nano sensors (using radio transmitters) and a receiver system will allow us to locate the individual and determine its condition (by recording its mass) upon entering the nesting grounds.
The timing of arrival at nesting sites relative to peak spawning periods may also influence male reproductive success. Mori (1993) reported that male three-spined sticklebacks arriving at nesting sites early in the breeding season had greater reproductive success compared to males arriving later in the breeding season. Our study proposes an accurate means for determining time of arrival at nesting sites. Our sensor network will provide information on the day and time tagged males arrive in shallow waters and may reveal new insights into the behavior not otherwise apparent in this species.

Literature Cited

Aday, D. D., Kush, C. M., Wahl, D. H. & Philipp, D. P. (2002). The influence of stunted body size on the reproductive ecology of bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 11, 190-195.

Cogliati, K. M., Corkum, L. D. & Doucet, S. M. (2010). Bluegill coloration as a sexual ornament: evidence from ontogeny, sexual dichromatism, and condition dependence. Ethology 116, 416-428.

Fox, M. G. & Keast, A. (1990). Effects of winterkill on population structure, body size, and prey consumption patterns of Pumpkinseed in isolated beaver ponds. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68, 2489-2498.

Mori, S. (1993). The breeding system of the three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus (i leiura) with reference to spatial and temporal patterns of nesting activity. Behaviour 126, 97-124.

Popiel, S. A., Perez-Fuentetaja, A., McQueen, D. J. & Collins, N. C. (1996). Determinants of nesting success in the Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus): A comparison of two populations under different risks from predation. Copeia 1996, 649-656.

Collaborative Project Details: At this point our project involves collaboration between the Computer Science and Biology departments at Saint Anselm College, Manchester NH.

We are looking to partner with another institution/agency in one of eligible NECC-Racer states to provide the tools to analyze and display lake-level visualization.

Lori Hosaka LaPlante Ph.D
Department of Biology

Rajesh Prasad Ph.D
Department of Computer Science

Carol Traynor Sc.D.
Department of Computer Science

Saint Anselm College
100 Saint Anselm Drive
Manchester, NH 03102

Tel: 603 641-7163
Project Overview - include goals, general expertise *: Dr. Rajesh Prasad has four years of expertise in wireless networks and has implemented a small wireless mesh sensor network supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Our project is sensor-based and utilizes real-time data collection. We will set up a network to join the NE grid that will transfer and utilize facilities with lake-level visualization/database tools.
Our goals are to use technology to 1) understand winter activity of Pumpkinseed, 2) explore the relationship between early season condition of males and nesting success.

Dr. Lori LaPlante has worked 11 years studying fish behavior in a variety of habitats. She has collaborated with government agencies to monitor fish populations around power stations and completed a small-scale modeling project that estimated the effects of size-related features on game fish populations.

Dr. Carol Traynor has six years experience with using both relational and spatial databases, geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping software. This experience will be useful in analyzing and visualizing the data collected.