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In fisheries, imprecise measurements in catch data from surveys adds uncertainty to the results of fishery stock assessments. The USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) began to survey the fall fish community of Lake Michigan in 1962 with bottom trawls. The measurement error was evaluated at the level of individual tows for nine fish species collected in this survey by applying a measurement-error regression model to replicated trawl data. It was found that the estimates of measurement-error variance ranged from 0.37 (deepwater sculpin, Myoxocephalus thompsoni) to 1.23 (alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus) on a logarithmic scale corresponding to a coefficient of variation = 66% to 156%. The estimates appeared to increase with the range of temperature occupied by the fish species. This association may be a result of the variability in the fall thermal structure of the lake. The estimates may also be influenced by other factors, such as pelagic behavior and schooling. Measurement error might be reduced by surveying the fish community during other seasons and/or by using additional technologies, such as acoustics. Measurement-error estimates should be considered when interpreting results of assessments that use abundance information from USGS-GLSC surveys of Lake Michigan and could be used if the survey design was altered. This study is the first to report estimates of measurement-error variance associated with this survey.
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Measurement error associated with surveys of fish abundance in Lake Michigan