The lake herring (Coregonus artedi) was one of the most commercially and ecologically valuable Lake Superior fishes, but declined in the second half of the 20th century as the result of overharvest of putatively discrete stocks. No tools were previously available that described lake herring stock structure and accurately classified lake herring to their spawning stocks. The accuracy of discriminating among spawning aggregations was evaluated using whole-body morphometrics based on a truss network. Lake herring were collected from 11 spawning aggregations in Lake Superior and two inland Wisconsin lakes to evaluate morphometrics as a stock discrimination tool. Discriminant function analysis correctly classified 53% of all fish from all spawning aggregations, and fish from all but one aggregation were classified at greater rates than were possible by chance. Discriminant analysis also correctly classified 66% of fish to nearest neighbor groups, which were groups that accounted for the possibility of mixing among the aggregations. Stepwise discriminant analysis showed that posterior body length and depth measurements were among the best discriminators of spawning aggregations. These findings support other evidence that discrete stocks of lake herring exist in Lake Superior, and fishery managers should consider all but one of the spawning aggregations as discrete stocks. Abundance, annual harvest, total annual mortality rate, and exploitation data should be collected from each stock, and surplus production of each stock should be estimated. Prudent management of stock surplus production and exploitation rates will aid in restoration of stocks and will prevent a repeat of the stock collapses that occurred in the middle of the 20th century, when the species was nearly extirpated from the lake.
Additional publication details
Discrimination among spawning aggregations of lake herring from Lake Superior using whole-body morphometric characters