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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • Jared T. Myers, Daniel L. Yule, Michael L. Jones, Henry R. Quinlan, Eric K. Berglund 2014 Foraging and predation risk for larval cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Superior: A modelling synthesis of empirical survey data. Elsevier . Ecological Modelling 294 pp. 71-83.
    The relative importance of predation and food availability as contributors to larval cisco (Coregonus artedi) mortality in Lake Superior were investigated using a visual foraging model to evaluate potential predation pressure by rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) and a bioenergetic model to evaluate potential starvation risk. The models were informed by observations of rainbow smelt, larval cisco, and zooplankton abundance at three Lake Superior locations during the period of spring larval cisco emergence and surface-oriented foraging. Predation risk was highest at Black Bay, ON, where average rainbow smelt densities in the uppermost 10 m of the water column were >1000 ha1. Turbid conditions at the Twin Ports, WI-MN, affected larval cisco predation risk because rainbow smelt remained suspended in the upper water column during daylight, placing them alongside larval cisco during both day and night hours. Predation risk was low at Cornucopia, WI, owing to low smelt densities (<400 ha1) and deep light penetration, which kept rainbow smelt near the lakebed and far from larvae during daylight. In situ zooplankton density estimates were low compared to the values used to develop the larval coregonid bioenergetics model, leading to predictions of negative growth rates for 10 mm larvae at all three locations. The model predicted that 15 mm larvae were capable of attaining positive growth at Cornucopia and the Twin Ports where low water temperatures (2–6 C) decreased their metabolic costs. Larval prey resources were highest at Black Bay but warmer water temperatures there offset the benefit of increased prey availability. A sensitivity analysis performed on the rainbow smelt visual foraging model showed that it was relatively insensitive, while the coregonid bioenergetics model showed that the absolute growth rate predictions were highly sensitive to input parameters (i.e., 20% parameter perturbation led to order of magnitude differences in model estimates). Our modelling indicated that rainbow smelt predation may limit larval cisco survival at Black Bay and to a lesser extent at Twin Ports, and that starvation may be a major source of mortality at all three locations. The framework we describe
    has the potential to further our understanding of the relative importance of starvation and predation on larval fish survivorship, provided information on prey resources available to larvae are measured at sufficiently fine spatial scales and the models provide a realistic depiction of the dynamic processes that the larvae experience.
    Contribution #1884
  • Binder, Thomas R., Christopher M. Holbrook, Scott M. Miehls, Henry T. Thompson, Charles C. Krueger 2014 Use of oviduct-inserted acoustic transmitters and positional telemetry to estimate timing and location of spawning: a feasibility study in lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush. BioMed Central Ltd.  . Animal Biotelemetry 2 (14).
    Background: Oviduct-inserted transmitters have shown promise for determining precise location of spawning
    in fishes. Use of traditional manual tracking to locate expelled oviduct transmitters is laborious and accurate
    estimates of time of transmitter expulsion require frequent surveys. We tested the feasibility of using oviduct-inserted
    transmitters with positional telemetry to estimate time and location of spawning in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush).
    Three assumptions were tested: (1) oviduct transmitters remain within fish until spawning, (2) oviduct transmitters
    are expelled with the eggs during spawning, and (3) time and location of oviduct transmitter expulsion can be
    accurately determined.
    Results: In the laboratory, 39 of 44 (89%) lake trout retained an oviduct transmitter until end of the spawning
    period and all premature transmitter expulsions occurred before maturation. Natural spawning in the laboratory
    was not feasible; however, of 35 ripe trout that retained transmitters, 31 (89%) expelled their transmitter with eggs
    when subjected to manual stripping. Ability to position transmitters with a telemetry array at known spawning
    sites in Lake Huron (North America) was poor when oviduct transmitters were placed in the substrate compared to
    transmitters suspended 1 m above substrate - 78% of transmitters in substrate could not be positioned. However,
    in simulations, time and location of spawning were determined with reasonable accuracy by double-tagging trout
    with one transmitter that is expelled with the eggs during spawning while another transmitter remains in the fish.
    Accuracy of estimated time and location of transmitter spatial separation varied with distance traveled from
    spawning site and swimming speed, and was dependent on transmission delay.
    Conclusions: Our results satisfied the three assumptions of oviduct tagging and suggested that oviduct
    transmitters can be used with positional telemetry to estimate time and location of spawning in lake trout and
    other species. In situations where oviduct transmitters may be difficult to position once expelled into substrate,
    pairing oviduct transmitters with a normal-sized fish transmitter that remains in the fish is recommended, with
    spawning inferred when the two tags separate in space. Optimal transmitter delay will depend on expected
    degree of spawning site residency and swim speed.
    Contribution #1875
  • Morrison, Cheryl, Dolly K. Coykendall, Wendy Stott, Marcus J. Springmann 2014 Development of eighteen microsatellite loci in walleye (Sander vitreus). Springer . Conservation Genetics Resources July 2014

    A suite of tri- and tetra-nucleotide microsatellite loci were developed for walleye (Sander vitreus) from 454 pyrosequencing data. Eighteen of the 50 primer sets tested amplifed consistently in 35 walleye from two lakes on Isle Royale, Lake Superior: Chickenbone Lake and Whittlesey Lake. The loci displayed moderate levels of allelic diversity (average 5.5 alleles/locus) and heterozygosity (average 35.8%). Levels of genetic diversity were sufficient to produce unique mulit-locus genotypes and detect phylogeographic structuring as individuals assigned back to their population of origin. Cross-species amplification within S. canadensis (sauger) was successful for 15 loci, and 11 loci were diagnostic to species. the loci characterized here will be useful for detecting fine-scale spatial structuring, resolving the taxonimic status of Sander species and sub-species, and detecting walleye/sauger hybrids. 

    Contribution #1870
  • Sierszen, Michael E., Thomas R. Hrabik, Jason D. Stockwell, Anne M. Cotter, Joel C. Hoffman, Daniel L. Yule 2014 Depth gradients in food-web processes linking habitats in large lakes: Lake Superior as an exemplar ecosystem. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. . Freshwater Biology 59 (10). pp. 2122-2136.
    1. In large lakes around the world, depth-based changes in the abundance and distribution of invertebrate
    and fish species suggest that there may be concomitant changes in patterns of resource allocation.
    Using Lake Superior of the Laurentian Great Lakes as an example, we explored this idea
    through stable isotope analyses of 13 major fish taxa.
    2. Patterns in carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios revealed use of both littoral and profundal benthos
    among populations of most taxa analysed regardless of the depth of their habitat, providing evidence
    of nearshore–offshore trophic linkages in the largest freshwater lake by area in the world.
    3. Isotope-mixing model results indicated that the overall importance of benthic food-web pathways
    to fish was highest in nearshore species, whereas the importance of planktonic pathways increased
    in offshore species. These characteristics, shared with the Great Lakes of Africa, Russia and Japan,
    appear to be governed by two key processes: high benthic production in nearshore waters and the
    prevalence of diel vertical migration (DVM) among offshore invertebrate and fish taxa. DVM facilitates
    use of pelagic food resources by deep-water biota and represents an important process of
    trophic linkage among habitats in large lakes.
    4. Support of whole-lake food webs through trophic linkages among pelagic, profundal and littoral
    habitats appears to be integral to the functioning of large lakes. These linkages can be disrupted
    though ecosystem disturbance such as eutrophication or the effects of invasive species and should be
    considered in native species restoration efforts.
    Contribution #1866
  • Huo, Bin, Charles P. Madenjian, Cong X. Xie, Yingming Zhao, Timothy P. O'Brien, Sergiusz J. Czesny 2014 Age and growth of round gobies in Lake Michigan, with preliminary mortality estimation. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 40 (3). pp. 712-720.

    The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is a prevalent invasive species throughout Lake Michigan, as well as other Laurentian Great Lakes, yet little information is available on spatial variation in round goby growth within one body of water. Age and growth of round goby at three areas of Lake Michigan were studied by otolith analysis from a sample of 659 specimens collected from 2008 to 2012. Total length (TL) ranged from 48 to 131 mm for Sturgeon Bay, from 50 to 125 mm for Waukegan, and from 54 to 129 mm for Sleeping Bear Dunes. Ages ranged from 2 to 7 years for Sturgeon Bay, from 2 to 5 years for Waukegan, and from 2 to 6 years for Sleeping Bear Dunes. Area-specific and sex-specific body–otolith relationships were used to back-calculate estimates of total length at age, which were fitted to von Bertalanffy models to estimate growth rates. For both sexes, round gobies at Sleeping Bear Dunes and Waukegan grew significantly faster than those at Sturgeon Bay. However, round goby growth did not significantly differ between Sleeping Bear Dunes and Waukegan for either sex. At all three areas of Lake Michigan, males grew significantly faster than females. Based on catch curve analysis, estimates of annual mortality rates ranged from 0.79 to 0.84. These relatively high mortality rates suggested that round gobies may be under predatory control in Lake Michigan.

    Contribution #1865
  • Boase, James C., Bruce A. Manny, Katherine A.L. Donald, Gregory W. Kennedy, James S. Diana, Michael V. Thomas, Justin A. Chiotti. 2014 Habitat used by juvenile lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the North Channel of the St. Clair River (Michigan, USA). Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 40 (Supplement 2). pp. 81-88.

    Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) occupy the St. Clair River, part of a channel connecting lakes Huron and Erie in the Laurentian Great Lakes. In the North Channel of the St. Clair River, juvenile lake sturgeon (3–7 years old and 582–793 mm in length) were studied to determine movement patterns and habitat usage. Fourteen juveniles were implanted with ultrasonic transmitters and tracked June–August of 2004, 2005 and 2006. Telemetry data, Geographic Information System software, side-scan sonar, video images of the river bottom, scuba diving, and benthic substrate samples were used to determine the extent and composition of habitats they occupied. Juvenile lake sturgeon habitat selection was strongly related to water depth. No fish were found in < 6 m of water and over 97% of the relocations were found at depths greater than 9 m. Available water depths exceeding 18 m only represented 3.5% of the available habitat, however 34.9% of the relocations were found at depths exceeding 18 m. Juvenile lake sturgeon did not use most areas in proportion to their availability. Sturgeon avoided clay ledges and shallow areas with silt or soft clay, which comprised approximately 39% of the benthic habitat in the North Channel. A total of 300 out of 351 documented locations were on sand and gravel habitat types mixed with clay. Lake sturgeon > 700 mm in length selected sand and gravel areas mixed with zebra mussels and areas dominated by zebra mussels, while fish < 700 mm used these habitat types in proportion to their availability.

    Contribution #1861
  • Madenjian, Charles P., Daniel L. Yule, Sergei M. Chernyak, Linda J. Begnoche, Eric K. Berglund, Edmund J. Isaac 2014 Males exceed females in PCB concentrations of cisco (Coregonus artedi) from Lake Superior. Science of the Total Environment 493 pp. 377-383.

    We determined whole-fish polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations of 25 male and 25 female age-7 ciscoes (Coregonus artedi) captured from a spawning aggregation in Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, during November 2010. We also determined PCB concentrations in the ovaries and somatic tissue of five additional female ciscoes (ages 5-22). All 55 of these ciscoes were in ripe or nearly ripe condition. Bioenergetics modeling was used to determine the contribution of the growth dilution effect toward a difference in PCB concentrations between the sexes, as females grew substantially faster than males. Results showed that the PCB concentration of males (mean= 141 ng/g) was 43% greater than that of females (mean= 98ng/g), and this difference was highly significant (P<0.0001). Mean PCB concentrations in the ovaries and the somatic tissue of the five females were 135 and 100 ng/g, respectively. Based on these PCB determinations for the ovaries and somatic tissue, we concluded that release of eggs by females at previous spawnings was not a contributing factor to the observed difference in PCB concentrations between the sexes. Bioenergetics modeling results indicated that the growth dilution effect could explain males being higher than females in PCB concentration by only 3-7%. We concluded that the higher PCB concentration in males was most likely due to higher rate of energy expenditure, originating from greater activity and a higher resting metabolic rate. Mean PCB concentration in the cisco eggs was well below the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and Ontario Ministry of Environment guidelines of 2000 and 844 ng/g, respectively, and this finding may have implications for the cisco roe fishery currently operating in Lake Superior.

    Contribution #1856
  • Robinson, Jason M., Michael J. Wilberg, Jean V. Adams, Michael L. Jones 2014 Comparing methods for estimating larval sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) density in the St. Marys River for the puposes of control. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 40 pp. 739-747.
    The St. Marys River is a major producer of parasitic sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) to Lake Huron making it
    an important area for larval control. Bayluscide treatments are conducted in areas of high larval density requiring
    density estimation at fine spatial scales to inform treatment decisions. We evaluated six methods of estimating
    spatially specific density including the currently used sampling-based estimates, a generalized linear model
    (GLM) based on mean larval density per plot, a GLM based on larval density per sample, a generalized additive
    model based on mean larval density per plot, a spatial age-structured population model, and a hybrid approach,
    which averaged the best performing sampling- andmodel-basedmethods.Methodswere evaluated based on accuracy
    in matching independent validation data. Specifically, themethods were evaluated based on their ability
    to project plot-level larval density, identify high density plots for treatment, and rank plots in order based on density
    resulting in high numbers of sea lampreys killed per hectare treated. Performance was variable, and no single
    method outperformed the others for all metrics. Although the sampling-based estimation method and the GLM
    based on catch data performed adequately for estimating density and identifying high density plots, the hybrid
    approach was identified as the best method to inform sea lamprey control decisions in the St. Marys River due
    to its consistent performance. Incorporating model-based approaches should lead to a more efficient and effective
    treatment program in the St. Marys River and aid in making decisions about the allocation of control
    Contribution #1852
  • Yurista, Peder M., Daniel Yule, Matt Balge, Jon D. VanAlstine, Jo A. Thompson, Allison E. Gamble, Thomas R. Hrabik, John R. Kelly, Jason D. Stockwell, Mark Vinson 2014 A new look at the Lake Superior biomass size-spectrum. NRC Press . Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 71 (9). pp. 1324-1333.
    We synthesized data from multiple sampling programs and years to describe the Lake Superior pelagic biomass size
    structure. Data consisted of Coulter counts for phytoplankton, optical plankton counts for zooplankton, and acoustic surveys for
    pelagic prey fish. The size spectrum was stable across two time periods separated by 5 years. The primary scaling or overall slope
    of the normalized biomass size spectra for the combined years was .1.113, consistent with a previous estimate for Lake Superior
    (.1.10). Periodic dome structures within the overall biomass size structure were fit to polynomial regressions based on the
    observed sub-domes within the classical taxonomic positions (algae, zooplankton, and fish). This interpretation of periodic dome
    delineation was aligned more closely with predator.prey size relationships that exist within the zooplankton (herbivorous,
    predacious) and fish (planktivorous, piscivorous) taxonomic positions. Domes were spaced approximately every 3.78 log10 units
    along the axis and with a decreasing peak magnitude of .4.1 log10 units. The relative position of the algal and herbivorous
    zooplankton domes predicted well the subsequent biomass domes for larger predatory zooplankton and planktivorous prey fish.
    Contribution #1851
  • Johnson, James H., Marc A. Chalupnicki 2014 Interspecific habitat associations of juvenile salmonids in Lake Ontario tributaries: implications for Atlantic salmon restoration. John Wiley & Sons . Journal of Applied Ichthyology 30 pp. 853-861.
    Diel variation in habitat use of subyearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), subyearling coho salmon (O. kisutch), yearling steelhead (O. mykiss), and yearling Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) was examined during the
    spring in two tributaries of Lake Ontario. A total of 1318 habitat observations were made on juvenile salmonids including 367 on steelhead, 351 on Chinook salmon, 333 on Atlantic salmon, and 261 on coho salmon. Steelhead exhibited the most diel variation in habitat use and Chinook the least. Juvenile salmonids were generally associated with more cover and larger substrate during the day in both streams. Interspecific differences in habitat use in both streams occurred with Atlantic salmon (fast velocities) and coho salmon (pools) using the least similar habitat. Chinook salmon and Atlantic salmon used similar habitat in both streams. These findings should help guide future management actions specific to habitat protection and restoration of Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario tributaries.
    Contribution #1850


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