2020 Moffett Award for Best Scientific Publication Awarded
Two publications have been given the James W. Moffett Award for the best scientific publication authored by personnel of the Great Lakes Science Center during 2020. See the Related Content for links to the Publications.
The first award went to Ralph Gundel and Sam Pecoraro for:
Evaluating the migration mortality hypothesis using monarch tagging data
Taylor et al. used data from a long-term monarch butterfly tagging program to examine a hypothesis that recent declines in the eastern North American population were associated with increased mortality during fall migration (migration mortality hypothesis), when individuals migrate from summer breeding habitats to overwintering habitats in central Mexico. Based on releases of individually tagged monarchs in the U.S. Midwest during an 18-year period (1998–2015) and subsequent recoveries in Mexico, the authors concluded that summer population size, rather than migration success, was the main determinant of overwintering population size. Consequently, results support an alternative hypothesis that monarch populations are primarily limited by summer habitat (milkweed limitation hypothesis), suggesting that increasing milkweed habitat could provide the greatest benefit among potential conservation measures. This work has far-reaching (continental-scale) implications for one of the most recognizable fauna in N. America and is expected to motivate further research into the milkweed limitation hypothesis.
The second award was given to Dan Yule for:
Spatial and vertical bias in down-looking ship-based acoustic estimates of fish density in Lake Superior: Lessons learned from multi-directional acoustics
Grow et al. used a multi-directional (upward-, sideways-, and downward-aimed) hydroacoustic sled, capable of sampling the entire water column, to determine and quantify the degree to which traditional ship-based downward looking echosounders underestimate pelagic fish densities near the surface in western Lake Superior. Overall, the sled-based approach provided estimates that were, on average, 2.5 times higher than the traditional approach, with significant differences in the 4–14 m depth layers but not at depths > 14 m. Consequently, cisco and rainbow smelt densities were substantially underestimated by the traditional approach. This work has important implications to fisheries assessment and management in Lake Superior, particularly for detecting changes in commercially important and environmentally sensitive preyfish populations. This work is also expected to motivate technological and methodological changes to reduce bias during fishery-independent surveys and motivate future research to better understand the magnitude of acoustic dead zones and mechanisms of vessel avoidance.