Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Biological Sciences

Advisor 1

Gordon Paterson

Committee Member 1

Casey Huckins

Committee Member 2

Charles Kerfoot


Seasonality is a consistent component of aquatic ecosystems yet most fish biological and ecotoxicological studies commonly employ field sampling protocols focused during the warm open water season with minimal emphasis placed on winter sampling, especially for north-temperate latitude ecosystems. Such strategies limit our understanding of poikilotherm biology and ecology during the overwintering seasons. Here, I investigated seasonal changes in yellow perch (Perca flavescens) biology, ecology and ecotoxicology over a one-year period in Lake Manganese. Significant seasonality was observed for metrics including fish energy densities (kJ/g), gonadosomatic indices, whole-body lipid contents, and carbon stable isotope values (δ13C). Mercury concentrations quantified within a single yellow perch age class displayed significant seasonal and individual variability, with Hg concentrations for fall and winter collected fishes being higher than those for spring and summer fishes. Both fish protein mass and δ13C were significant predictors of Hg bioaccumulation by Lake Manganese yellow perch. This study is among the few to demonstrate the role of seasonality on fish biology, ecology and pollutant bioaccumulation. Furthermore, these results demonstrate the need to include winter and establish entire growing season datasets under current climate change predictions.