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Status and trends of pelagic prey fish in Lake Huron, 2017

December 31, 2018

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center conducted integrated acoustic and mid-water trawl surveys of Lake Huron in 1997 and annually from 2004-2017. The 2017 survey was conducted during September and included transects in Lake Huron’s main basin, Georgian Bay, and North Channel. Mean lake-wide pelagic fish density was 1582 fish/ha and mean pelagic fish biomass was 10.5 kg/ha in 2017, which represents 96% and 93% of the long-term mean respectively. Mean lake-wide biomass was 23% higher in 2017 as compared to 2016. The total estimated lake-wide standing stock biomass of pelagic fish species, excluding cisco, was ~49 kt (± 10.4 kt), consisting almost entirely of bloater (26.8 kt; 55%) and rainbow smelt (22 kt; 45%), with small contributions from sticklebacks (0.13 kt; 0.26 %), emerald shiner (0.09 kt; 0.18%), and alewife (0.004kt; <0.005%). Age-0 rainbow smelt abundance increased from 155 fish/ha in 2016 to 598 fish/ha in 2017. Biomass of age-1+ rainbow smelt increased from 2.5 kg/ha in 2016 to 4.1 kg/ha in 2017. Age-0 bloater abundance increased from 94 fish/ha in 2016 to 342 fish/ha in 2017. Biomass of age-1+ bloater in 2017 (5.0 kg/ha) remained at levels similar to 2016 (5.2 kg/ha). Emerald shiner density decreased from 38.6 fish/ha in 2016 to 19.5 fish/ha in 2017. Emerald shiner biomass remained at 0.02 kg/ha between 2016-2017 which represented 19% of the long-term mean. Cisco lake-wide mean biomass was estimated at 2.2 kg/ha and mean density was estimated at 5.1 fish/ha in 2017. Bloater and rainbow smelt will likely continue to be the primary pelagic species available to offshore predators in coming years.

Publication Year 2018
Title Status and trends of pelagic prey fish in Lake Huron, 2017
Authors Timothy P. O'Brien, David M. Warner, Peter C. Esselman, Steve A. Farha, Steve Lenart, Chris Olds, Kristy Phillips
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70196551
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center