Status of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Michigan, 2013

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Abstract

Acoustic surveys were conducted in late summer/early fall during the years 1992-1996 and 2001-2013 to estimate pelagic prey fish biomass in Lake Michigan. Midwater trawling during the surveys as well as target strength provided a measure of species and size composition of the fish community for use in scaling acoustic data and providing species-specific abundance estimates. The 2013 survey consisted of 27 acoustic transects (546 km total) and 31 midwater trawl tows. Mean prey fish biomass was 6.1 kg/ha (relative standard error, RSE = 11%) or 29.6 kilotonnes (kt = 1,000 metric tons), which was similar to the estimate in 2012 (31.1 kt) and 23.5% of the long-term (18 years) mean. The numeric density of the 2013 alewife year class was 6% of the time series average and this year-class contributed 4% of total alewife biomass (5.2 kg/ha, RSE = 12%). Alewife ≥age-1 comprised 96% of alewife biomass. In 2013, alewife comprised 86% of total prey fish biomass, while rainbow smelt and bloater were 4 and 10% of total biomass, respectively. Rainbow smelt biomass in 2013 (0.24 kg/ha, RSE = 17%) was essentially identical to the rainbow smelt biomass in 2012 and was 6% of the long term mean. Bloater biomass in 2013 was 0.6 kg/ha, only half the 2012 biomass, and 6% of the long term mean. Mean density of small bloater in 2013 (29 fish/ha, RSE = 29%) was lower than peak values observed in 2007-2009 and was 23% of the time series mean. In 2013, pelagic prey fish biomass in Lake Michigan was similar to Lake Huron, but pelagic community composition differs in the two lakes, with Lake Huron dominated by bloater.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Unnumbered Series
Title Status of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Michigan, 2013
DOI 10.3133/70097361
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 12 p.
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan