Because of growing concern in the Great Lakes over declines in abundance and growth of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and declines in abundance of the benthic amphipod Diporeia spp., a workshop was held to examine past and current trends, to explore trophic links, and to discuss the latest research results and needs. The workshop was divided into sessions on the status of populations in each of the lakes, bioenergetics and trophic dynamics, and exploitation and management. Abundance, growth, and condition of whitefish populations in Lakes Superior and Erie are stable and within the range of historical means, but these variables are declining in Lakes Michigan and Ontario and parts of Lake Huron. The loss of Diporeia spp., a major food item of whitefish, has been a factor in observed declines, particularly in Lake Ontario, but density-dependent factors also likely played a role in Lakes Michigan and Huron. The loss of Diporeia spp. is temporally linked to the introduction and proliferation of dreissenid mussels, but a direct cause for the negative response of Diporeia spp. has not been established. Given changes in whitefish populations, age-structured models need to be re-evaluated. Other whitefish research needs to include a better understanding of what environmental conditions lead to strong year-classes, improved aging techniques, and better information on individual population (stock) structure. Further collaborations between assessment biologists and researchers studying the lower food web would enhance an understanding of links between trophic levels.
Additional Publication Details
Lake whitefish and Diporeia spp. in the Great lakes: an overview