Status and trends of the Lake Huron deepwater demersal fish ommunity, 2008

By: , and 

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Abstract

The U.S.Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center has conducted trawl surveys to assess annual changes in the deepwater demersal fish community of Lake Huron since 1973. Since 1992, surveys have been carried out using a 21 m wing trawl towed on-contour at depths ranging from 9 to 110 m on fixed transects. Sample sites include five ports in U.S. waters with less frequent sampling near Goderich, Ontario. The 2008 fall bottom trawl survey was carried out between October 24 and November 20, 2008 and sampled only the three northern U.S. ports at DeTour, Hammond Bay, and Alpena due to mechanical problems with the research vessel and prolonged periods of bad weather. Therefore, all data presented for 2008 are based on samples collected from these ports. Compared to previous years, alewife populations in Lake Huron remain at low levels after collapsing in 2004. Age-0 alewife density and biomass appears to have increased slightly but overall levels remain near the nadir observed in 2004. Density and biomass of adult and juvenile rainbow smelt showed a decrease from 2007 despite record-high abundance of juveniles observed in 2005, suggesting recruitment was low. Numbers of adult and juvenile bloater were low despite recent high year-classes. Abundances for most other prey species were similar to the low levels observed in 2005 - 2007. We captured one wild juvenile lake trout in 2008 representing the fifth consecutive year that wild lake trout were captured in the survey. Based on pairwise graphical comparisons and nonparametric correlation analyses, dynamics of prey abundance at the three northern ports followed lakewide trends since 1992. Density of benthic macroinvertebrates was at an all-time low in 2008 since sampling began in 2001. The decline in abundance was due to decreases in all taxonomic groups and a large reduction in recruitment of quagga mussels. Density of Diporeia at northern ports in 2008 was the lowest observed. Diporeia were found only at 73-m sites of three ports sampled in northern Lake Huron. While no lakewide estimate of prey biomass was calculated due to the limited spatial scope of the 2008 survey, existing data suggest prey biomass remains depressed. Prey available to salmonids during 2009 will likely be small alewives, small rainbow smelt and small bloaters. Predators in Lake Huron will continue to face potential prey shortages.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Status and trends of the Lake Huron deepwater demersal fish ommunity, 2008
Year Published 2009
Language English
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 21 p.
Conference Title Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Lake Huron Committee Meeting
Conference Location Ypsilanti, MI
Conference Date March 27, 2009
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Huron