The USGS Lake Erie Biological Station's East Harbor sampling program began in 1961 with commissioning of the research vessel Musky II. It is the longest known continuous trawl survey in Lake Erie. In addition to spanning over 50 years, the data series is unique for three prominent design elements: 1) sampling was conducted at three depth strata; 2) replicate trawl samples were collected at each depth stratum; and 3) sampling was conducted during both day and night. Unlike other trawl series collected in Lake Erie, and throughout the Great Lakes, the East Harbor program is the only one to combine these sampling practices in a single survey. In 2012, the original vessel used since the inception of the East Harbor program, the research vessel Musky II, was retired and replaced with a larger research vessel, Muskie. The change in vessel necessitated change in the trawl net and all of the rigging and hardware needed to tow it (LEBS, 2013). This effectively ended the time series of data, which were collected with the exact same vessel and sampling gear for 51 years. This historical data set has proven valuable for testing hypotheses about long-term ecological change and the impacts of non-native species invasions in the Great Lakes. Further, at various times through history it provided accurate predictions of recruitment for species, such as Yellow Perch, that support some of the most valuable fisheries in the Great Lakes. For future scientific endeavors, and to ensure this work is available to the public, we present here the entire data set from 1961 through 2012.
USGS Lake Erie East Harbor bottom trawl data series, 1961-2011