Long-term trends in the St. Marys River open water fish community

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

We examined trends in species composition and abundance of the St. Marys River fish community. Abundance data were available approximately once every six years from 1975 through 2006, and size and age data were available from 1995 through 2006. We also compared survey data in 2006 with results of a concurrent creel survey that year, as well as data from prior surveys spanning a 69 year time frame. The St. Marys River fish community was best characterized as a coolwater fish community with apparent little variation in species composition, and only slight variation in overall fish abundance since 1975. However, we did find recent trends in abundance among target species sought by anglers: centrarchids increased, percids appeared stable, and both northern pike Esox lucius and cisco Coregonus artedii declined. Survey results suggested that walleye (Sander vitreus) and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) experienced moderate exploitation but benefited from recent strong recruitment and faster growth. Mechanisms underlying declines of northern pike and cisco were not clear; reduced abundance could have resulted from high exploitation, variation in recruitment, or a combination of both factors. Despite these challenges, the St. Marys River fish community appears remarkably stable. We suggest that managers insure that creel surveys occur simultaneously with assessments, but periodic gill net surveys may no longer provide adequate data in support of recent, more complex management objectives. While additional surveys would add costs, more frequent data might ensure sustainability of a unique fish community that supports a large proportion of angler effort on Lake Huron.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Long-term trends in the St. Marys River open water fish community
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2011.02.002
Volume 37
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher International Association for Great Lakes Research
Publisher location Ann Arbor, MI
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
First page 70
Last page 79
Country Canada;United States
State Michigan;Ontario
Other Geospatial Lake Huron;St. Marys River
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