We used a remotely operated submersible vehicle equipped with a color video camera to videotape the lake bed and document the distribution and abundance of burbot Lota lota on a 156-hectare portion of Julian's Reef in southwestern Lake Michigan. The substrates and bathymetry of the study area had been mapped recently by side-scan sonar. Burbot density determined from videotapes covering 6,900 m2 of lake bed at depths of 23-41 m averaged 139 individuals/ hectare (range, 0-571/hectare). This density was substantially higher than the highest burbot density (59-95/hectare) reported in the literature. Burbot were present on the lake bed at depths of 23-36 m, but were most abundant near the crest of the reef at 23-28 m, where the water temperature was 8-13°C, their preferred summer temperature range. Substrates in that temperature range on the reef were bedrock, bedrock ridges, and bedrock and rubble. Burbot were most abundant on the bedrock and rubble. Small fish and macroinvertebrates typically eaten by burbot elsewhere in western Lake Michigan were distributed on the reef according to their summer preferred temperatures and were not seen in abundance where burbot density was highest. We saw no lake trout Salvelinus namaycush on Julian's Reef, although large numbers of juvenile lake trout have been stocked there annually and temperatures on the reef were in the preferred summer temperature range for lake trout.
Additional publication details
Distribution, abundance, and resting microhabitat of burbot on Julian's Reef, southwestern Lake Michigan