Presque Isle Bay, Lake Erie, was listed as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the International Joint Commission in part because of the high incidence of external tumor in brown bullheads. Verifying the source of the possible contaminant exposure is critical to addressing the AOC designation. We used telemetry tracking (n = 49 fish) to test the hypothesis that adult bullheads captured within the bay during spawning season do not exit the bay during the post-spawning summer and fall months. We analyzed genetic variation at 15 microsatellite loci for 112 adult fish from 5 locations, 4 inside the bay and 1 outside, in order to test for possible differences. Data from fixed-station receivers suggested fish did not leave Presque Isle Bay during the study period. Predicted locations outside Presque Isle Bay were only 0.1% of all predicted locations and were below the 0.2% error rate based on known manual relocations. However, there was evidence for movement within Presque Isle Bay. Most movement was between Misery Bay or Lagoons and the open bay area. Whereas telemetry results showed tendency for adult site fidelity, genetic results showed no differences among locations, indicating that there is a single panmictic population. Our telemetry data suggest that brown bullheads are likely a useful indicator species for environmental conditions in Presque Isle Bay, since adults likely are retained in the system.
Additional publication details
Movements of brown bullheads in Presque Isle Bay, Lake Erie, Pennsylvania