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Monday, January 25 • 10:40am - 11:00am
Lake Trout Spawning Habitat Selection in the Drummond Island Refuge: Paradigm or Paradox?

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AUTHORS: Steven A. Farha*, MSU - Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability; Thomas R. Binder, MSU - Fisheries and Wildlife; John Janssen, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science; Stephen Riley, USGS - Great Lakes Science Center; J. Ellen Marsden, UVM - Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; Mike Hansen, USGS - Hammond Bay Biological Station; Charles R. Bronte, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Charles Krueger, MSU - Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

ABSTRACT: Despite decades of stocking, restoration of self-sustaining Great Lakes lake trout populations has been slow, potentially reflecting an inability of hatchery-reared lake trout to select habitats suitable for successful incubation. We addressed this hypothesis on two spawning reefs in the Drummond Island Refuge (Lake Huron) using a novel acoustic telemetry-based approach whereby sampling effort was apportioned based on behavioral data from tagged adult lake trout, which were used to classify habitats based on presence or absence of individuals during the spawning season. During 2013 and 2014 spawning seasons, 120-20m x 20m sites were physically characterized and surveyed for egg deposition. Incubation success was estimated on a subset of 30 sites each year using an established in situ habitat bioassay. Diver surveys confirmed egg deposition at 21 sites in both years, but not all sites received eggs in both years. Logistic regression models were used to test for relationships between egg deposition and physical habitat characteristics. The relative importance of each habitat characteristic was ranked using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC). Initial analyses indicated that substrates selected for egg deposition were more uniform, smaller in diameter, had deeper interstitial depth, and had greater bathymetric slope than sites not selected by the lake trout for spawning. Sites visited by lake trout and selected for egg deposition had the highest incubation success as estimated by our habitat bio-assay, suggesting lake trout were capable of finding suitable spawning habitat within the Drummond Island Refuge. Nonetheless, lake trout spawned on a wide range of substrates, including several sites that were inconsistent with the commonly-accepted lake trout spawning habitat paradigm. Interestingly, these unconventional sites not only received eggs, but also produced viable fry during each year of the study, forcing us to rethink, adapt, and expand our conceptual understanding of what constitutes suitable trout spawning habitat.

Monday January 25, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
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Attendees (34)