Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Committee Member

Troy M Farmer

Committee Member

Elizabeth Marschall

Committee Member

Brandon Peoples


Climate change is altering thermal regimes in aquatic systems worldwide, often impacting species on the southern edges of their ranges in the northern hemisphere. Yellow Perch, Perca flavescens, a cool water species, have a patchy distribution at the southern edge of their range in North American, occurring primarily in systems that provide coolwater refugia during summer months (e.g., tailwaters below hypolimnetic release dams). However, minimum winter temperatures are much warmer in these systems than in northern locations. In northern populations, egg quality is linked to overwinter thermal conditions, with long, cold winters resulting in higher quality eggs compared to short, warm winters. We explored if Yellow Perch from the Savannah River, SC required similar exposure to long, cold winters for proper reproductive development. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments, measured spawning phenology, spawning success, fecundity, egg quality, and larval quality metrics, and compared these results to other Yellow Perch populations across North America. We also analyzed data collected from across the species range to determine if latitude was a significant predictor of Yellow Perch growth rate, maximum size, and longevity. Our results provide improved understanding of the thermal requirements for successful Yellow Perch reproduction at southern latitudes and allow for insights into how reproductive strategies and trade-offs differ across the species range. Results from the growth rate, maximum size, and longevity study provide insights into local adaptations in Yellow Perch life history traits across much of their native and introduced range.



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