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How well do existing surveys track fish community performance measures in the St. Clair-Detroit River System?

January 10, 2024

The St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie and provides important habitats for many fishes of economic and ecological importance. Portions of the SCDRS are designated as Great Lakes Areas of Concern and fish production and conservation may be compromised. Efforts to address beneficial use impairments have focused on restoring habitat for native fishes and improving aquatic ecosystem health. Considerable site-specific research and long-term, annual fish surveys have examined responses to habitat improvements. However, there is uncertainty surrounding whether individual studies and surveys can assess (1) population-level benefits of habitat enhancements and (2) whether management objectives are being met. To identify monitoring gaps and inform long-term monitoring program development, we compared outputs from SCDRS fish monitoring surveys (based on discussions with regional agencies) with performance measures specified in management plans (obtained through gray literature searches). Performance measures for harvested species aligned well with outputs of existing surveys. In contrast, at-risk fishes often had objectives and performance measures that reflected knowledge gaps and study needs. Although harvested species were well-monitored relative to specified performance measures, at-risk fishes were less reliably collected by existing surveys, except for lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens. Effective evaluation of restoration efforts for at-risk fishes may require additional survey efforts that target species-specific habitat use and life history characteristics.

Publication Year 2024
Title How well do existing surveys track fish community performance measures in the St. Clair-Detroit River System?
DOI 10.1007/s10661-023-11895-2
Authors Corbin David Hilling, M. L. Belore, J. Boase, Justin A. Chiotti, Robin L. DeBruyne, Susan E. Doka, Richard Drouin, Christine M. Mayer, Jeff T. Tyson, T. Wills, Edward F. Roseman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Index ID 70250974
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center