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Does Lake Erie still have sufficient oxythermal habitat for cisco Coregonus artedi?

February 15, 2020

In Lake Erie, cisco Coregonus artedi once supported one of the most valuable freshwater fisheries on earth, yet overfishing caused their eventual extirpation from the lake. With warming lake temperatures, some have questioned whether Lake Erie still contains suitable oxythermal conditions for cisco. Using published oxythermal thresholds for cisco and oxythermal profiles from Lake Erie, we sought to answer two questions critical to cisco restoration science. First, is cisco habitat still available during the most restrictive periods? Second, what is the distribution of cisco habitat during these times? Beta regression was used to determine that cisco habitat was most limited during the month of August, and that August of 2010 was the most restrictive period in the time series. We then used Empirical Bayesian Kriging (EBK) to map the spatial extent of cisco habitat during these times. EBK maps revealed large areas of summer refugia for cisco in Lake Erie, even during the least favorable periods. Most of the Central and East Basins contain suitable habitat during the average August, yet during August of 2010, suitable conditions were limited to the eastern edge of the Central Basin and the deep waters of the East Basin. These findings align well with historical accounts of cisco landings. While suitable oxythermal habitat still exists for cisco in Lake Erie, future restoration efforts, if attempted, will partially depend on: 1) better management of nutrient inputs, 2) the realization of future climate scenarios, and 3) the ability of cisco to adapt to a changing lake.

Publication Year 2020
Title Does Lake Erie still have sufficient oxythermal habitat for cisco Coregonus artedi?
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2020.01.019
Authors Joseph Schmitt, Christoper S. Vandergoot, Brian P. O'Malley, Richard Kraus
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70208575
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center