The buildup of salmonid populations in Lake Michigan through annual stockings of hatchery-reared fish may become limited by the quantity of forage fish, mainly alewives Alosa pseudoharengus, available for food. As a part of a continuing examination of salmonid predator-prey relations in Lake Michigan, we traced changes in alewife biomass estimated from bottom-trawl surveys conducted in late October and early November 1967-1978. Weight of adult alewives trawled per 0.5 hectare of bottom (10-minute drag) at 16 depths along eight transects between 1973 and 1977 formed a skewed distribution: 72 of 464 drags caught no alewives; 89 drags caught less than 1 kg; and 2 drags caught more than 100 kg (maximum 159 kg). Analysis of variance in normalized catch per tow indicated highly significant differences between the main effects of years and depths, and highly significant differences in the interactions of years and transects, years and depths, and transects and depths. Five geographic and depth strata, formed by combining parts of transects wherein mean catch rate did not differ significantly, were the basis for calculating annual estimates of adult alewife biomass (with 90% confidence intervals). Estimated biomass of alewives (A?90% confidence limits) in Lake Michigan proper (Green Bay and Grand Traverse Bay excluded) rose gradually from 46,000 (A?9,000) t in 1967 to 114,000 (A?17,000) t in 1973, declined to 45,000 (A?8,000) t in 1977, and rose to 77,000 (A?19,000) t in 1978.
Additional publication details
Estimation of alewife biomass in Lake Michigan, 1967-1978