Status and trends of prey fish populations in Lake Superior, 2008
The Great Lakes Science Center has conducted annual daytime bottom trawl surveys of the Lake Superior nearshore (15-80 m bathymetric depth zone) every spring since 1978 to provide a long-term index of relative abundance and biomass of the fish community. Between May 5 and June 14, 2008, 58 stations were sampled around the perimeter of the lake with 12-m wide bottom trawls. Trawls were deployed cross-contour at median start and end depths of 17 and 55 m, respectively. The lakewide mean relative biomass estimate for the entire fish community was 4.61 kg/ha which was similar to that measured in 2007, 4.81 kg/ha. Dominant species in the catch were lake whitefish, rainbow smelt, longnose sucker and cisco, which represented 49, 18, 11, and 7 % of the total community biomass, respectively. Compared to 2007 levels, lake whitefish and cisco biomass increased 35% and 55%, respectively, while bloater and rainbow smelt biomass declined 69% and 41%, respectively. Increased biomass of lake whitefish and decreased biomass in bloater represent trends observed since 2007; however, reversed trends in biomass were observed for cisco and rainbow smelt. Year-class strength for the 2007 cisco cohort (0.20 fish/ha) was below the long-term (1977-2007) average (73.31 fish/ha), as was year-class strength for the 2007 bloater cohort (0.33 fish/ha) compared to the long-term average (11.11 fish/ha). Smelt year class strength (226.26 fish/ha) continues a trend of increasing strength from a 31-year low of 56.75 fish/ha in 2001 and was above the long-term average of 193.81 fish/ha. The 2008 cisco age structure was dominated by age 5 and older fish, which accounted for 82% of the mean relative density. Wisconsin waters continue to be the most productive (mean total community biomass of 17.09 kg/ha), followed by western Ontario (5.40 kg/ha), eastern Ontario (3.08 kg/ha), Michigan (2.82 kg/ha), and Minnesota (0.89 kg/ha).
Densities of small (400 mm) hatchery lake trout continued a pattern of decline observed since 1993-1996 to 0.04, 0.03 and 0.01 fish/ha in 2008, respectively. Densities of small and large wild (lean) lake trout continued a decreasing trend observed since 1996-1998. From 2007 to 2008, density of small lean lake trout declined from 0.29 to 0.15 fish/ha, the lowest value since 1978. Density of large lean lake trout has been relatively stable since 1986 but more recently density declined from 0.43 fish/ha in 2006 to 0.10 fish/ha in 2008. Density of intermediate size lean lake trout showed a small increase from 0.31 in 2007 to 0.41 fish/ha in 2008. Siscowet lake trout have shown a pattern of variable but increasing density since 1980. Since 2006, densities of small and intermediate size siscowet lake trout have increased from 0.10 to 0.12 and 0.08 to 0.15 fish/ha, respectively. Densities of large siscowet lake trout have fluctuated between 0.10 and 0.07 fish/ha since 2000. In 2008 the proportions of total lake trout density that were hatchery, lean and siscowet were 8, 60, and 32%, respectively.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Conference Paper|
|Publication Subtype||Conference Paper|
|Title||Status and trends of prey fish populations in Lake Superior, 2008|
|Publisher||Great Lakes Fishery Commission|
|Contributing office(s)||Great Lakes Science Center|
|Conference Title||Great Lakes Fishery Commission: Lake Superior Committee Meeting|
|Conference Date||March 25, 2009|
|Country||Canada, United States|
|Other Geospatial||Lake Superior|