Environmental factors influencing annual sucker (Catostomus sp.) migration into a Great Lakes tributary

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 



Fish migration in rivers is a growing area of concern as mounting anthropogenic influences, particularly fragmentation from dams and barriers, constitute major threats to global river species diversity. Barriers can impede the movement of fishes between areas critical to the completion of their lifecycle, affecting both population and ecosystem viability. In response, fish passage solutions have been identified as a critical need to maintain fisheries viability in the Laurentian Great Lakes, and around the world. Pivotal to the success of these fish passage solutions is a more complete understanding of the movement phenology and environmental cues that instigate migration. We used a dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) to evaluate environmental triggers of river entry during spring and summer for three size classes of migratory fishes in the Boardman River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Our results indicate that medium size fish (>30 cm and < 50 cm), primarily composed of white sucker Catostomus commersonii and longnose sucker Catostomus catostomus were 21% more likely to enter the river at sunset and 25% less likely at midnight in comparison to midday. Entry rates of medium fish increased 6% for every 1 °C increase in river temperature, 4% for every 1 m3/s increase in river discharge from the day prior, and were reduced by 1% for every 10 cm increase in lake level. Understanding these processes in the tributaries of the Great Lakes is important to inform the fish passage solutions currently being developed for the Boardman River, and to inform management regulations for Great Lakes migratory fishes.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Environmental factors influencing annual sucker (Catostomus sp.) migration into a Great Lakes tributary
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2021.04.003
Volume 47
Issue 4
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 1159
Last page 1170
Country United States
State Michigan
Other Geospatial Boardman River Watershed
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