Burrowing mayflies, Hexagenia spp. (H. limbata and H. rigida), began recolonizing western Lake Erie during the 1990s. Survey data for mayfly nymph densities indicated that the population experienced exponential growth between 1991 and 1997. To predict the time to full recovery of the mayfly population, we fitted logistic models, ranging in carrying capacity from 600 to 2000 nymphs/m2, to these survey data. Based on the fitted logistic curves, we forecast that the mayfly population in western Lake Erie would achieve full recovery between years 1998 and 2000, depending on the carrying capacity of the western basin. Additionally, we estimated the mortality rate of nymphs in western Lake Erie during 1994 and then applied an age-based matrix model to the mayfly population. The results of the matrix population modeling corroborated the exponential growth model application in that both methods yielded an estimate of the population growth rate, r, in excess of 0.8 yr-1. This was the first evidence that mayfly populations are capable of recolonizing large aquatic ecosystems at rates comparable with those observed in much smaller lentic ecosystems. Our model predictions should prove valuable to managers of power plant facilities along the western basin in planning for mayfly emergences and to managers of the yellow perch (Perca flavescens) fishery in western Lake Erie.
Additional publication details
Population models of burrowing mayfly recolonization in Western Lake Erie