USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center

David Bunnell


Research Fishery Biologist Great Lakes Science Center Email: Phone: (734) 214-9324 Fax: (734) 994-8780 Professional Page:


B.S. (Biology) Centre College, 1995
M.S. (Fisheries) Clemson University, 1997
Ph.D. (Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology) The Ohio State University, 2002

Current Studies

Lake Michigan Benthic Prey Fish

Since it became a lakewide survey in 1973 (i.e., sampling 7 transects consistently: Manistique, MI; Frankfort, MI; Ludington, MI; Saugatuck, MI; Waukegan, IL; Port Washington, WI; Sturgeon Bay, WI) the Lake Michigan bottom trawl study has played a critical role in understanding the ecosystem dynamics and in managing the fisheries of Lake Michigan. Its primary role is to provide annual estimates of prey fish abundance to guide the decision of state agencies in the stocking of piscivorous fish. Beyond these data, GLSC researchers have analyzed the time series to 1) further understanding of the factors that regulate the recruitment of alewife, bloater, deepwater sculpin, and slimy sculpin, 2) determine trends in the growth, maturation, and condition of alewife and bloater, and 3) conduct community analyses to explore how the prey fish community has responded to invasive species, such as alewife and dreissenid mussels. Maintenance of this long-term data set is critical to provide a benchmark for how these important fishes are responding to the persistent perturbations to the Lake Michigan ecosystem, include invasive species and climate change.

Principal Investigator: David "Bo" Bunnell
Forecasting Climate Change Impacts on Fish Production

Great Lakes fishery managers have little information regarding how proposed climate change arising from rising greenhouse gas emissions will affect the management and conservation of fish populations (including those of high recreational and commercial value). To that end, our work aims to provide knowledge to aid managers in their planning and anticipation of coming changes. First, we will update a regional climate model to provide more accurate estimate of predicted water level changes, as well as depth-specific water temperature and % ice cover data for 50-75 years into the future. Second, we will use satellite data to explore the linkage between annual primary productivity and winter and spring warming rates. Third, we will use time series models to explore how these important climate-related variables (in addition to other important biotic factors) explain variability in fish recruitment using long-term data sets. Fourth, we will use parameters derived from these analyses and predicted climate variables to forecast fish recruitment over the next 50-75 years. Finally, we will use bioenergetics modeling to explore how warmer water temperatures will influence the growth and consumption rates of several managed fish species.

Principal Investigator: David "Bo" Bunnell

Recent Publications

Patricia M. Armenio, David B. Bunnell, Jean V. Adams, Nicole M. Watson, and Whitney Woelmer 2017. It's like night and day: Diel net-effects on Cercopagidae densities in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research .
Contribution #2099
Janice A. Kerns, Mark W. Rogers, David B. Bunnell, Randall M. Claramunt, and Paris D. Collingsworth 2016. Comparing Life History Characteristics of Lake Michigan’s Naturalized and Stocked Chinook Salmon. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management . 36 (5). 1106-1118.
Contribution #2052
Randy L. Eshenroder, Paul Vecsei, Owen T. Gorman, Daniel L. Yule, Thomas C. Pratt, Nicholas E. Mandrak, David B. Bunnell, and Andrew M. Muir 2016. Ciscoes (Coregonus, Subgenus Leucichthys) of the Laurentian Great Lakes and Lake Nipigon. Great Lakes Fishery Commission .
Contribution #2096
David B. Bunnell, Tomas O. Höök, Cary D. Troy, Wentao Liu, Charles P. Madenjian, and Jean V. Adams 2016. Testing for synchrony in recruitment among four Lake Michigan fish species. NRC Research Press . Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences .
Contribution #2070
Steven J. Cooke, Angela H. Arthington, Scott A. Bonar, Shanon D. Bower, David B. Bunnell, Rose E.M. Entsua-Mensah, Simon Funge-Smith, John D. Koehn, Nigel P. Lester, Kai Lorenzen, So Nam, Robert G. Randall, Paul Venturelli, and Ian G. Cowx 2016. Assessment of Inland Fisheries: A Vision for the Future.

William W. Taylor, Devin M. Bartley, Chris I. Goddard, Nancy J. Leonard, and Robin Welcomme

Freshwater, Fish and the Future: Proceedings of the Global Cross-Sectoral Conference. 45-62.
Contribution #2059

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