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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • Richard T. Kraus, David H. Secor, Rebecca L. Wingate 2015 Testing the thermal-niche oxygen-squeeze hypothesis for estuarine striped bass. Springer . Environmental Biology of Fishes

    In many stratified coastal ecosystems, conceptual and bioenergetics models predict seasonal reduction in quality and quantity of fish habitat due to high temperatures and hypoxia. We tested these predictions using acoustic telemetry of 2 to 4 kg striped bass (Morone saxatilis Walbaum) and high-resolution spatial water quality sampling in the Patuxent River, a sub-estuary of the Chesapeake Bay, during 2008 and 2009. Striped bass avoided hypoxic (dissolved oxygen ≤2 mg·l−1) subpycnocline waters, but frequently occupied habitats with high temperatures (>25 °C) in the summer months, as cooler habitats were typically not available. Using traditional concepts of the seasonal thermal-niche oxygen-squeeze, most of the Patuxent estuary would be considered unsuitable habitat for adult striped bass during summer. Application of a bioenergetics model revealed that habitats selected by striped bass during summer would support positive growth rates assuming fish could feed at one-half of maximum consumption. Occupancy of the estuary during summer by striped bass in this study was likely facilitated by sufficient prey and innate tolerance of high temperatures by sub-adult fish of the size range that we tagged. Our results help extend the thermal-niche oxygen-squeeze hypothesis to native populations of striped bass in semi-enclosed coastal systems. Tolerance of for supraoptimal temperatures in our study supports recent suggestions by others that the thermal-niche concept for striped bass should be revised to include warmer temperatures.

    Contribution #1936
  • Daniel S. Stich, Michael M. Bailey, Christopher M. Holbrook, Michael T. Kinnison, and Joseph D. Zydlewski 2015 Catchment-wide Survival of Wild-and Hatchery-Reared Atlantic Salmon Smolts in a Changing System. NRC Research Press . Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

    We developed a hierarchical multi-state model to estimate survival of Atlantic salmon smolts in the Penobscot River, USA over a decade during which two main-stem dams were removed from the catchment. We investigated effects of 1) environmental factors, 2) rearing history, and 3) management actions including dam removal, turbine shutdown, and installation of new powerhouses. Mean ± S.D. smolt survival per kilometer was higher through free-flowing reaches of the catchment (0.995 ± 0.004•km-1) than through reaches containing dams that remain in the system (0.970 ± 0.019•km-1). We observed maximum survival between 12 °C and 17 °C and at intermediate discharges (1 200 m3•s-1). Smolt survival increased concurrent with dam removal, and decreased following increases in hydropower generation. The greatest increase in smolt survival followed seasonal turbine shutdowns at a dam located on the largest tributary to the Penobscot River, while other shutdowns had little influence. Our model provides a useful tool for assessing changes to survival of migratory species and will be useful for informing stocking plans to maximize numbers of smolts leaving coastal systems.

    Contribution #1934
  • James H. Johnson, Russell D. McCullough, James F. Farquhar, and Irene Mazzocchi 2015 Little Galloo Island, Lake Ontario: Two decades of studies on the diet, fish consumption, and management of double-crested cormorants. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 41 (2). pp. 652-658.

    The double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) colony at Little Galloo Island, Lake Ontario has been a Great Lakes focal point of controversy regarding cormorant–fish interactions for over two decades. We examined cormorant diet and fish consumption at the colony from 1992 to 2013. During this time period, two events, management actions and round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) invasion, occurred that affected the number of fish consumed by cormorants and their diet composition. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of round goby on the feeding ecology of cormorants and evaluate the efficacy of management actions on meeting cormorant population targets at the colony. Round goby first appeared in the diet in 2004 (0.8%) and within one year were the primary prey (29.3%). The presence of round goby in the diet of cormorants: (1) eliminated seasonal variability in diet composition, (2) reversed seasonal trends in the number of fish consumed daily, (3) increased daily fish consumption, and (4) significantly reduced the consumption of other species including yellow perch and smallmouth bass. Management actions, such as egg oiling and culling, were also effective in reducing nesting activity and the number of cormorant feeding days at the Little Galloo Island colony. There is evidence that the combination of management actions and round goby may have allowed some population recovery of yellow perch and smallmouth bass in eastern Lake Ontario.

    Contribution #1933
  • Martin A. Stapanian, Mick Micacchion, and Jean V. Adams 2015 Wetland habitat disturbance best predicts metrics of an amphibian index of biotic integrity. Elsevier . Ecological Indicators 56 pp. 237-242.

    Regression and classification trees were used to identify the best predictors of the five component metrics of the Ohio Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity (AmphIBI) in 54 wetlands in Ohio, USA. Of the 17 wetland- and surrounding landscape-scale variables considered, the best predictor for all AmphIBI metrics was habitat alteration and development within the wetland. The results were qualitatively similar to the best predictors for a wetland vegetation index of biotic integrity, suggesting that similar management practices (e.g., reducing or eliminating nutrient enrichment from agriculture, mowing, grazing, logging, and removing down woody debris) within the boundaries of the wetland can be applied to effectively increase the quality of wetland vegetation and amphibian communities.

    Contribution #1931
  • Talia Young, Olaf P. Jensen, Brian C. Weidel, Sudeep Chandra 2015 Natural trophic variability in a large, oligotrophic, near-pristine lake. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 41 (2). pp. 463-472.

    Conclusions drawn from stable isotope data can be limited by an incomplete understanding of natural isotopic variability over time and space. We quantified spatial and temporal variability in fish carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in Lake Hövsgöl, Mongolia, a large, remote, oligotrophic lake with an unusually species-poor fish community. The fish community demonstrated a high degree of trophic level overlap. Variability in d13C was inversely related to littoral-benthic dependence, with pelagic species demonstrating more d13C variability than littoral-benthic species. A mixed effects model suggested that space (sampling location) had a greater impact than time (collection year) on both d13C and d15N variability. The observed variability in Lake Hövsgöl was generally greater than isotopic variability documented in other large, oligotrophic lakes, similar to isotopic shifts attributed to introduced species, and less than isotopic shifts attributed to anthropogenic chemical changes such as eutrophication. This work complements studies on isotopic variability and changes in other lakes around the world.

    Contribution #1930
  • Cory O. Brant, Ke Li, Nicholas S. Johnson, and Weiming Li 2015 A pheromone outweighs temperature in influencing migration of sea lamprey. The Royal Society Publishing . Royal Society Open Science 2 (5). pp. 1-7.

    Organisms continuously acquire and process information from surrounding cues. While some cues complement one another in delivering more reliable information, others may provide conflicting information. How organisms extract and use reliable information from a multitude of cues is largely unknown. We examined movement decisions of sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus L.) exposed to a conspecific and an environmental cue during pre-spawning migration. Specifically, we predicted that the mature male-released sex pheromone 3-keto petromyzonol sulfate (3kPZS) will outweigh the locomotor inhibiting effects of cold stream temperature (less than 15°C). Using large-scale stream bioassays, we found that 3kPZS elicits an increase (more than 40%) in upstream movement of pre-spawning lampreys when the water temperatures were below 15°C. Both warming temperatures and conspecific cues increase upstream movement when the water temperature rose above 15°C. These patterns define an interaction between abiotic and conspecific cues in modulating animal decision-making, providing an example of the hierarchy of contradictory information.

    Contribution #1929
  • Michael E. Fraker, Eric J. Anderson, Cassandra J. May, Kuan-Yu Chen, Jeremiah J. Davis, Kristen M. DeVanna, Mark R. DuFour, Elizabeth A. Marschall, Christine M. Mayer, Jeffrey G. Miner, Kevin L. Pangle, Jeremy J. Pritt, Edward F. Roseman, Jeffrey T. Tyson, Yingming Zhao, and Stuart A. Ludsin 2015 Stock-specific advection of larval walleye (Sander vitreus in western Lake Erie: Implications for larval growth, mixing, and stock discrimination. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Physical processes can generate spatiotemporal heterogeneity in habitat quality for fish and also influence the overlap of pre-recruit individuals (e.g., larvae) with high-quality habitat through hydrodynamic advection. In turn, individuals from different stocks that are produced in different spawning locations or at different times may experience dissimilar habitat conditions, which can underlie within- and among-stock variability in larval growth and survival. While such physically-mediated variation has been shown to be important in driving intra- and inter-annual patterns in recruitment in marine ecosystems, its role in governing larval advection, growth, survival, and recruitment has received less attention in large lake ecosystems such as the Laurentian Great Lakes. Herein, we used a hydrodynamic model linked to a larval walleye (Sander vitreus) individual-based model to explore how the timing and location of larval walleye emergence from several spawning sites in western Lake Erie (Maumee, Sandusky, and Detroit rivers; Ohio reef complex) can influence advection pathways and mixing among these local spawning populations (stocks), and how spatiotemporal variation in thermal habitat can influence stock-specific larval growth. While basin-wide advection patterns were fairly similar during 2011 and 2012, smaller scale advection patterns and the degree of stock mixing varied both within and between years. Additionally, differences in larval growth were evident among stocks and among cohorts within stocks which were attributed to spatiotemporal differences in water temperature. Using these findings, we discuss the value of linked physical–biological models for understanding the recruitment process and addressing fisheries management problems in the world's Great Lakes.

    Contribution #1928
  • Yu-Chun Kao, Charles P. Madenjian, David B. Bunnell, Brent M. Lofgren, and Marjorie Perroud 2015 Potential effects of climate change on the growth of fishes from different thermal guilds in Lakes Michigan and Huron. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 41 (2). pp. 423-435.

    We used a bioenergetics modeling approach to investigate potential effects of climate change on the growth of two economically important native fishes: yellow perch (Perca flavescens), a cool-water fish, and lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), a cold-water fish, in deep and oligotrophic Lakes Michigan and Huron. For assessing potential changes in fish growth, we contrasted simulated fish growth in the projected future climate regime during the period 2043–2070 under different prey availability scenarios with the simulated growth during the baseline (historical reference) period 1964–1993. Results showed that effects of climate change on the growth of these two fishes are jointly controlled by behavioral thermoregulation and prey availability. With the ability of behavioral thermoregulation, temperatures experienced by yellow perch in the projected future climate regime increased more than those experienced by lake whitefish. Thus simulated future growth decreased more for yellow perch than for lake whitefish under scenarios where prey availability remains constant into the future. Under high prey availability scenarios, simulated future growth of these two fishes both increased but yellow perch could not maintain the baseline efficiency of converting prey consumption into body weight. We contended that thermal guild should not be the only factor used to predict effects of climate change on the growth of a fish, and that ecosystem responses to climate change should be also taken into account.

    Contribution #1925
  • Andrew M. Deines, David B. Bunnell, Mark W. Rogers, T. Douglas Beard Jr., and William W. Taylor 2015 A review of the global relationship among freshwater fish, autotrophic activity, and regional climate. Springer . Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 25 (2). pp. 323-336.

    The relationship between autotrophic activity and freshwater fish populations is an important consideration for ecologists describing trophic structure in aquatic communities, fisheries managers tasked with increasing sustainable fisheries development, and fish farmers seeking to maximize production. Previous studies of the empirical relationships of autotrophic activity and freshwater fish yield have found positive relationships but were limited by small sample sizes, small geographic scopes, and the inability to compare patterns among many types of measurement techniques. Individual studies and reviews have also lacked consistent consideration of regional climate factors which may inform relationships between fisheries and autotrophic activity. We compiled data from over 700 freshwater systems worldwide and used meta-analysis and linear models to develop a comprehensive global synthesis between multiple metrics of autotrophic activity, fisheries, and climate indicators. Our results demonstrate that multiple metrics of fish (i.e., catch per unit effort, yield, and production) increase with autotrophic activity across a variety of fisheries. At the global scale additional variation in this positive relationship can be ascribed to regional climate differences (i.e., temperature and precipitation) across systems. Our results provide a method and proof-of-concept for assessing inland fisheries production at the global scale, where current estimates are highly uncertain, and may therefore inform the continued sustainable use of global inland fishery resources.

    Contribution #1924
  • Frederick M. Soster, Gerald Matisoff, Donald W. Schloesser, and William J. Edwards 2015 Potential impact of Chironomus plumosus larvae on hypolimnetic oxygen in the central basin of Lake Erie. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 41 (2). pp. 348-357.

    Previous studies have indicated that burrow-irrigating infauna can increase sediment oxygen demand (SOD) and impact hypolimnetic oxygen in stratified lakes. We conducted laboratory microcosm experiments and computer simulations with larvae of the burrowing benthic midge Chironomus plumosusto quantify burrow oxygen uptake rates and subsequent contribution to sediment oxygen demand in central Lake Erie. Burrow oxygen uptake and water flow velocities through burrows were measured using oxygen microelectrodes and hot film anemometry, respectively. Burrow oxygen consumption averaged 2.66 × 10− 10 (SE = ± 7.82 × 10− 11) mol O2/burrow/s at 24 °C and 9.64 × 10− 10 (SE = ± 4.86 × 10− 10) mol O2/burrow/s at 15 °C. In sealed microcosm experiments, larvae increased SOD 500% at 24 °C (density = 1508/m2) and 375% at 15 °C (density = 864/m2). To further evaluate effects of densities of C. plumosus burrows on SOD we developed a 3-D transport reaction model of the process. Using experimental data and chironomid abundance data in faunal surveys in 2009 and 2010, we estimated that bioirrigation by a population of 140 larvae/m2 could account for between 2.54 × 10− 11 mol/L/s (model results) and 5.58 × 10− 11 mol/L/s (experimental results) of the average 4.22 × 10− 11 mol/L/s oxygen depletion rate between 1970 and 2003, which could have accounted for 60–132% of the oxygen decline. At present, it appears that the population density of this species may be an important factor in development of hypoxic or anoxic conditions in central Lake Erie.

    Contribution #1923


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