USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • Heather S. Galbraith, Carrie J. Blakeslee, Andrew K. Schmucker, Nicholas S. Johnson, Michael J. Hansen, and Weiming Li 2016 Donor life stage influences juvenile American eel Anguilla rostrata attraction to conspecific chemical cues. John Wiley & Sons . Journal of Fish Biology

    The present study investigated the potential role of conspecific chemical cues in inland juvenile American eel Anguilla rostrata migrations by assessing glass eel and 1 year old elver affinities to elver washings, and elver affinity to adult yellow eel washings. In two-choice maze assays, glass eels were attracted to elver washings, but elvers were neither attracted to nor repulsed by multiple concentrations of elver washings or to yellow eel washings. These results suggest that A. rostrata responses to chemical cues may be life-stage dependent and that glass eels moving inland may use the odour of the previous year class as information to guide migration. The role of chemical cues and olfaction in eel migrations warrants further investigation as a potential restoration tool.

    Contribution #2076
  • Kurt P. Kowalski 2016 Collaborations, research, and adaptive management to address nonnative Phragmites australis in the Great Lakes Basin. U.S. Geological Survey . U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3031

    Phragmites australis, also known as common reed, is a native North American wetland grass that has grown in North America for thousands of years. More recently, a nonnative, invasive variety of Phragmites from Eurasia is rapidly invading wetlands across the continental United States and other parts of North America, where it negatively impacts humans and the environment. U.S. Geological Survey scientists, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, are leading innovative efforts to improve management of nonnative Phragmites in the Great Lakes Basin.

    Contribution #2075
  • Marcos Antonio Soares, Hai-Yan Li, Kurt P. Kowalski, Marshall Bergen, Monica S. Torres, and James Francis White 2016 Evaluation of the functional roles of fungal endophytes of Phragmites australis from high saline and low saline habitats. Springer . Springer . Biological Invasions 18 (9). pp. 2689-2702.

    Non-native Phragmites australis decreases biodiversity and produces dense stands in North America. We surveyed the endophyte communities in the stems, leaves and roots of collections of P. australis obtained from two sites with a low and high salt concentration to determine differences in endophyte composition and assess differences in functional roles of microbes in plants from both sites. We found differences in the abundance, richness and diversity of endophytes between the low saline collections (18 species distributed in phyla Ascomycota, Basidiomycota and Stramenopiles (Oomycota); from orders Dothideales, Pleosporales, Hypocreales, Eurotiales, Cantharellales and Pythiales; Shannon H = 2.639; Fisher alpha = 7.335) and high saline collections (15 species from phylum Ascomycota; belonging to orders Pleosporales, Hypocreales, Diaporthales, Xylariales and Dothideales; Shannon H = 2.289; Fisher alpha = 4.181). Peyronellaea glomerata, Phoma macrostoma and Alternaria tenuissima were species obtained from both sites. The high salt endophyte community showed higher resistance to zinc, mercury and salt stress compared to fungal species from the low salt site. These endophytes also showed a greater propensity for growth promotion of rice seedlings (a model species) under salt stress. The results of this study are consistent with the ‘habitat-adapted symbiosis hypothesis’ that holds that endophytic microbes may help plants adapt to extreme habitats. The capacity of P. australis to establish symbiotic relationships with diverse endophytic microbes that enhance its tolerance to abiotic stresses could be a factor that contributes to its invasiveness in saline environments. Targeting the symbiotic associates of P. australis could lead to more sustainable control of non-native P. australis.

    Contribution #2074
  • Jessica J. Hellmann, Ralph Grundel, Chris Hoving, and Gregor W. Schuurman 2016 A call to insect scientists: challenges and opportunities of managing insect communities under climate change. Elsevier . Current Opinion in Insect Science 17 pp. 92-97.

    As climate change moves insect systems into uncharted territory, more knowledge about insect dynamics and the factors that drive them could enable us to better manage and conserve insect communities. Climate change may also require us revisit insect management goals and strategies and lead to a new kind of scientific engagement in management decision-making. Here we make five key points about the role of insect science in aiding and crafting management decisions, and we illustrate those points with the monarch butterfly and the Karner blue butterfly, two species undergoing considerable change and facing new management dilemmas. Insect biology has a strong history of engagement in applied problems, and as the impacts of climate change increase, a reimagined ethic of entomology in service of broader society may emerge. We hope to motivate insect biologists to contribute time and effort toward solving the challenges of climate change.

    Contribution #2072
  • Taaja R. Tucker, Patrick L. Hudson, and Stephen C. Riley 2016 Observations of cocooned Hydrobaenus (Diptera: Chironomidae) larvae in Lake Michigan. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 42 (5). pp. 1129-1135.

    Larvae of the family Chironomidae have developed a variety of ways to tolerate environmental stress, including the formation of cocoons, which allows larvae to avoid unfavorable temperature conditions, drought, or competition with other chironomids. Summer cocoon formation by younger instars of the genus Hydrobaenus Fries allows persistence through increased temperatures and/or intermittent dry periods in arid regions or temporary habitats, but this behavior was not observed in the Great Lakes until the current study. Cocoon-aestivating Hydrobaenus sp. larvae were found in benthic grab samples collected in 2010–2013 near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Lake Michigan with densities up to 7329/m2. The aestivating species was identified as Hydrobaenus johannseni (Sublette, 1967), and the associated chironomid community was typical for an oligotrophic nearshore system. Hydrobaenus cocoon formation in the Great Lakes was likely previously unnoticed due to the discrepancies between the genus' life history and typical benthos sampling procedures which has consequences for describing chironomid communities where Hydrobaenus is present.

    Contribution #2071
  • 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

    In the Great Lakes region, multiple fish species display intra-specific spatial synchrony in recruitment success, with inter-annual climate variation hypothesized as the most likely driver. In Lake Michigan, we evaluated whether climatic or other physical variables could also induce spatial synchrony across multiple species, including bloater (Coregonus hoyi), rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). The residuals from stock-recruitment relationships revealed yellow perch recruitment to be correlated with recruitment of both rainbow smelt (r = 0.37) and alewife (r = 0.36). Across all four species, higher than expected recruitment occurred in 5 years between 1978 and 1987 and then switched to lower than expected recruitment in 5 years between 1996 and 2004. Generalized additive models revealed warmer spring and summer water temperatures and lower wind speeds corresponded to higher than expected recruitment for the nearshore-spawning species, and overall variance explained ranged from 14% (yellow perch) to 61% (alewife). For all species but rainbow smelt, higher recruitment also occurred in extremely high or low years of the North Atlantic Oscillation index.

    Contribution #2070
  • Carson G. Prichard, Edward F. Roseman, Kevin M. Keeler, Timothy P. O'Brien, and Stephen C. Riley 2016 Large-Scale Changes in Bloater Growth and Condition in Lake Huron. Taylor & Francis . Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 145 (6). pp. 1241-1251.
    Native Bloaters Coregonus hoyi have exhibited multiple strong year-classes since 2005 and now are the most abundant benthopelagic offshore prey fish in Lake Huron, following the crash of nonnative Alewives Alosa pseudoharengus and substantial declines in nonnative Rainbow Smelt Osmerus mordax. Despite recent recoveries in Bloater abundance, marketable-size (>229 mm) Bloaters remain scarce. We used annual survey data to assess temporal and spatial dynamics of Bloater body condition and lengths at age in the main basin of Lake Huron from 1973 to 2014. Basinwide lengths at age were modeled by cohort for the 1973–2003 year-classes using a von Bertalanffy growth model with time-varying Brody growth coefficient (k) and asymptotic length (

    ) parameters. Median Bloater weights at selected lengths were estimated to assess changes in condition by modeling weight–length relations with an allometric growth model that allowed growth parameters to vary spatially and temporally. Estimated Bloater lengths at age declined 14–24% among ages 4–8 for all year-classes between 1973 and 2004. Estimates of  declined from a peak of 394 mm (1973 year-class) to a minimum of 238 mm (1998 year-class). Observed mean lengths at age in 2014 were at all-time lows, suggesting that year-classes comprising the current Bloater population would have to follow growth trajectories unlike those characterizing the 1973–2003 year-classes to attain marketable size. Furthermore, estimated weights of 250-mm Bloaters (i.e., a large, commercially valuable size-class) declined 17% among all regions from 1976 to 2007. Decreases in body condition of large Bloaters are associated with lower lipid content and may be linked to marked declines in abundance of the amphipods Diporeia spp. in Lake Huron. We hypothesize that since at least 1976, large Bloaters have become more negatively buoyant and may have incurred an increasingly greater metabolic cost performing diel vertical migrations to prey upon the opossum shrimp Mysis diluviana and zooplankton. 


    Contribution #2068
  • Chiara M. Zuccarino-Crowe, William W. Taylor, Michael J. Hansen, Michael J. Seider, and Charles C. Krueger 2016 Effects of Lake Trout Refuges on Lake Whitefish and Cisco in the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 42 (5). pp. 1092-1101.

    Lake trout refuges in the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior are analogous to the concept of marine protected areas.  These refuges, established specifically for lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and closed to most recreational and commercial fishing, were implicated as one of several management actions leading to successful rehabilitation of Lake Superior lake trout.  To investigate the potential significance of Gull Island Shoal and Devils Island Shoal refuges for populations of not only lake trout but also other fish species, relative abundances of lake trout, lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), and cisco (C. artedi) were compared between areas sampled inside versus outside of refuge boundaries.  During 1982–2010, lake trout relative abundance was higher and increased faster inside the refuges, where lake trout fishing was prohibited, than outside the refuges.  Over the same period, lake whitefish relative abundance increased faster inside than outside the refuges.  Both evaluations provided clear evidence that refuges protected these species.  In contrast, trends in relative abundance of cisco, a prey item of lake trout, did not differ significantly between areas inside and outside the refuges.  This result did not suggest indirect or cascading refuge effects due to changes in predator levels.  Overall, this study highlights species-specific refuges’ potential to benefit other fish species beyond those that were the refuges’ original target.  Improved understanding of refuge effects on multiple species of Great Lakes fishes can be valuable for developing rationales for refuge establishment and predicting associated fish community-level effects.

    Contribution #2066
  • Roger A. Bergstedt, Ray L. Argyle, William W. Taylor, and Charles C. Krueger 2016 Seasonal and Diel Bathythermal Distributions of Lake Whitefish in Lake Huron: Potential Implications for Lake Trout Bycatch in Commercial Fisheries. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management 36 (4). pp. 705-719.

    Depths and temperatures recorded during 2003–2005 by archival tags implanted in Lake Whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis and in Great Lakes origin (GLO) and New York Finger Lakes origin (FLO) strains of Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush were used to compare seasonal diel depth and temperature distributions in Lake Huron. Seasonal depth distributions were examined to determine if species differences could be exploited to reduce bycatch of Lake Trout in commercial Lake Whitefish gill-net fisheries. Both GLO and FLO Lake Trout used deeper and colder waters than Lake Whitefish during daylight and dark. Temperature differences between species were greatest during periods of stratification when behavioral thermoregulation was possible. Other than during spawning periods, the greatest depth and temperature separation occurred in late July between FLO Lake Trout (37.0 m; 6.5 ºC) and Lake Whitefish (25.1 m; 10.2 ºC). If maximum depths of gill nets were regulated seasonally to between 25 and 35 m, = 50% of the Lake Whitefish population would be vulnerable while avoiding 89% or more of Lake Trout. Lake Trout percentages targeted under such regulations would be lowest in late July (GLO = 8% and FLO = 11%) and early August (GLO = 4% and FLO = 7%). However, archival tags measure fish depth and not location or bottom depth, and modal depths of gill-net effort for Lake Whitefish (38 to 57 m) exceeded those from the Lake Whitefish archival tag data. This discrepancy suggests that many Lake Whitefish might be pelagic above the reach of bottom-set gill nets, so depth restrictions could be less effective in reducing Lake Trout bycatch than suggested by our data. A further implication is that use of gill nets suspended above the bottom to target pelagic Lake Whitefish could also reduce bycatch while potentially increasing Lake Whitefish harvest.

    Contribution #2065
  • T. Bruce Lauber, Richard C. Stedman, Nancy A. Connelly, Lars G. Rudstam, Richard C. Ready, Gregory L. Poe, David B. Bunnell, Tomas O. Höök, Marten A. Koops, Stuart A. Ludsin, and Edward S. Rutherford 2016 Using Scenarios to Assess Possible Future Impacts of Invasive Species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management 36 (6). pp. 1292-1307.

    The expected impacts of invasive species are key considerations in selecting policy responses to potential invasions. But predicting the impacts of invasive species is daunting, particularly in large systems threatened by multiple invasive species, such as North America’s Laurentian Great Lakes. We developed and evaluated a scenario-building process that relied on an expert panel to assess possible future impacts of aquatic invasive species on recreational fishing in the Great Lakes. To maximize its usefulness to policy makers, this process was designed to be implemented relatively rapidly and considered a range of species. The expert panel developed plausible, internally consistent invasion scenarios for five aquatic invasive species, along with subjective probabilities of those scenarios. We describe these scenarios and evaluate this approach for assessing future invasive species impacts. The panel held diverse opinions about the likelihood of the scenarios, and only one scenario with impacts on sport fish species was considered likely by most of the experts. These outcomes are consistent with the literature on scenario building, which advocates for developing a range of plausible scenarios in decision-making because the uncertainty of future conditions makes the likelihood of any particular scenario low. We believe that this scenario-building approach could contribute to policy decisions about whether and how to address the possible impacts of invasive species. In this case, scenarios could allow policy makers to narrow the range of possible impacts on Great Lakes fisheries they consider and help set a research agenda for further refining invasive species predictions.

    Contribution #2064


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