A scientific basis for restoring fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers of the Laurentian Great Lakes

Restoration Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Loss of functional habitat in riverine systems is a global fisheries issue. Few studies, however, describe the decision-making approach taken to abate loss of fish spawning habitat. Numerous habitat restoration efforts are underway and documentation of successful restoration techniques for spawning habitat of desirable fish species in large rivers connecting the Laurentian Great Lakes are reported here. In 2003, to compensate for the loss of fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers that connect the Great Lakes Huron and Erie, an international partnership of state, federal, and academic scientists began restoring fish spawning habitat in both of these rivers. Using an adaptive management approach, we created 1,100 m2 of productive fish spawning habitat near Belle Isle in the Detroit River in 2004; 3,300 m2 of fish spawning habitat near Fighting Island in the Detroit River in 2008; and 4,000 m2 of fish spawning habitat in the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River in 2012. Here, we describe the adaptive-feedback management approach that we used to guide our decision making during all phases of spawning habitat restoration, including problem identification, team building, hypothesis development, strategy development, prioritization of physical and biological imperatives, project implementation, habitat construction, monitoring of fish use of the constructed spawning habitats, and communication of research results. Numerous scientific and economic lessons learned from 10 years of planning, building, and assessing fish use of these three fish spawning habitat restoration projects are summarized in this article.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A scientific basis for restoring fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers of the Laurentian Great Lakes
Series title Restoration Ecology
DOI 10.1111/rec.12159
Volume 23
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
First page 149
Last page 156
Country United States
Other Geospatial Detroit River, St. Clair River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N