Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013

Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013

Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Christopher S. Vandergoot Sandusky Fisheries Research Station Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Background o Physical Environment o Fish Community o Sampling Programs Predator Trends o Western and Central Basin o Eastern Basin Prey Trends o Western and Central Basin o Eastern Basin

Factors Affecting Fish Community Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 West to east gradient in depth, temperature, and productivity West to east gradient in fish West basin community o Warm and cool water species dominant in west basin o Cool and cold water species dominant in east basin o West to east gradient in diversity Nearshore fish community East basin Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Population Surveys

Lakewide harvest assessment programs Lakewide gill net survey Lakewide trawling survey Lakewide acoustic survey Other surveys o Lower trophic level o Diet assessment Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Population Surveys Port Stanley, ON 57850 2012 Port Maitland Fairport Harbor, OH Port Colborne

Port Dover Dunkirk Density Scale (# / ha) 1 10000 20000 30000 Erie 40000 50000 60000 Buffalo Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Lower Trophic Level Survey 20 19

Ontario 25 15 16 18 17 1 2 13 14 MI 9 5 PA

10 6 3 11 12 4 OH PA OH 8 7 NY Highly variable recruitment Recent recruitment mediocre

Changes in spatial structure* Growth rates increasing o confounded by abundance? 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10

0 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2003 year-class still dominant Age-2 recruits (mil.) Declines in walleye abundance

Abundance (mil.) Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Predator Trends (West-central) A b u n d a n c e (m il.) Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Predator Trends (Lakewide) Lakewide declines in yellow perch abundance 600 Majority of population in central basin 500 Highly variable recruitment

200 Eastern Central Western 400 300 100 0 300 250 200 150 100 2013 2011 2009

2007 2005 2003 2001 1999 1997 0 1995 50 1993 Age-2 recruits (mil.)

Movement patterns? Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Predator Trends (West-central) Increased abundance in other areas due to warming Lack survey information 500 400 300 200 2011 2009 2007 2005

2003 2001 0 1999 100 1997 Potential cormorant predation Central West 1995 Round goby nest predation 600

1993 Spring closure enacted 2003 Catch rate (#/ hour) Declines in smallmouth bass abundance Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Predator Trends (East) Population sustained via stocking/ limited natural reproduction Abundance below target levels Sea lamprey abundance on rise Alternative strains evaluated Experimental stocking in WB and CB basins

Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Predator Trends (East) Population sustained via natural reproduction Abundance levels declined recent years Sea lamprey abundance on rise? Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Nearshore Trends Increases in largemouth bass Increases in sunfish spp. Lake sturgeon abundances Nearshore community study o Vegetation= good Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Forage Fish Trends Gradient in forage fish community from west to east

o Higher diversity in east West basin Cluepids, shiners dominate in western basin Rainbow smelt dominate eastern basin Nearshore fish community? East basin Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Forage Fish Trends Functional forage groups Decrease in clupeids Increase in spiny rayed fish Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Forage Fish Trends Since discovered abundance variable

o Recent trends declining abundance in all basins Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L) Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Lower Trophic Level Trends 2012 Data Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status 2013 Factors Effecting Fish Community Hypoxia o USGS, EPA & ODNR Harmful Algal Blooms o AEL Ohio State Lake Erie Fisheries Community Status: 2013 Acknowledgements

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Ohio Department of Natural Resources Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleye , Yellow Perch and Forage Task Groups Lake Erie Millennium Network

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