Spatial patterns in the biomass of pelagic fish in Lake Huron have persisted over 10 years even though biomass decreased 86% and the fish community shifted from dominance by non-native species (rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax) to dominance by native species (bloater, Coregonus hoyi). Based on multivariate analyses of acoustic biomass data and abiotic variables from the years 1997, 2004, 2005, and 2007, the strength of relationships between abiotic variables (primarily bottom depth) and fish community composition gradients decreased with fish biomass, suggesting that at high biomass, the influence of the measured abiotic variables is minimal. We observed consistently higher biomass in the North Channel and Georgian Bay than in the Main Basin, and as a result, we conclude that these smaller basins are likely important contributors to lakewide fish biomass, production, and dynamics. These results suggest that at current biomass levels, efforts to understand ecology, population dynamics, and lakewide abundance need to incorporate the effects of depth and geographic variation on fish distributions and ecology.
Additional Publication Details
The Lake Huron pelagic fish community: persistent spatial pattern along biomass and species composition gradients
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences