Tributaries provide spawning habitat for three of four major sub-stocks of Lake Erie walleye (Sander vitreus). Despite anthropogenic degradation and the extirpation of other potamodromous species, the Maumee River, Ohio, USA continues to support one of the largest fish migrations in the Laurentian Great Lakes. To determine if spawning habitat availability and quality could limit production of Maumee River walleye, two habitat suitability models were created for the lower 51 km of the Maumee River and the distribution and numbers of walleye eggs deposited in a 25 km stretch of river were assessed. Walleye eggs were collected using a diaphragm pump at 7 and 10 sites from March/April to May 2014 and 2015. The habitat suitability models showed that <3% of the river yielded ‘good’ walleye spawning habitat and 11–38% yielded ‘moderate’ walleye spawning habitat, depending on the model. However, a large set of rapids at river kilometer 28 and more than five river kilometers of less suitable habitat separated areas of ‘good’ habitat. The rapids may present a migratory barrier for many spawning walleye, as modeled water velocities exceed maximum estimated walleye swim speeds 71–100% of days during pre-spawn migration and spawning during the study period. In both study years, there was a sharp decline in mean egg numbers from spawning sites downstream of the rapids (439.7 eggs/2 min tow ± 990.6 SD) to upstream sites (5.9 eggs/2 min tow ± 19.4 SD). Physical barriers like rapids may reduce spawning habitat connectivity and could limit walleye production in the Maumee River.
|Title||Determining habitat limitations of Maumee River walleye production to western Lake Erie fish stocks: Documenting a spawning ground barrier|
|Authors||Brian Schmidt, Taaja Tucker, Jessica Collier, Christine Mayer, Edward F. Roseman, Wendylee Stott, Jeremy J. Pritt|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Great Lakes Research|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Great Lakes Science Center|