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Monday, January 25 • 10:40am - 11:00am
Development of Tributary Connectivity Priorities For Great Lakes Migratory Fishes

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AUTHORS: Matthew Herbert*, The Nature Conservancy; Mary Khoury, The Nature Conservancy; Eugene Yacobson, The Nature Conservancy; Jared Ross, The Nature Conservancy; Patrick Doran, The Nature Conservancy; Peter McIntyre, University of Wisconsin; Matthew Diebel, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Thomas Neeson, University of Wisconsin; Margaret Guyette, University of Wisconsin; Allison Moody, University of Wiscosin

ABSTRACT: Fish migration between the Great Lakes and their tributaries is critical for maintaining population structure and fisheries production in the Great Lakes, and provides important nutrient transport and other services. Unfortunately, this process has been highly altered due to migratory barriers and other impacts. In order to develop effective outcome-based conservation strategies to conserve this key process across the full suite of migratory fish, we need spatially explicit information on which tributaries are the most important. We defined migratory fish as native or managed species that have populations that depend on both Great Lakes and tributary habitat for part of their life cycle, which includes but is not limited to species that are known to have distinct seasonal spawning runs. We identified 42 species that met this criteria. Unfortunately, there are no large-scale datasets focused on migratory fish monitoring. We used a wide variety of riverine and Great Lakes fish sampling datasets to map tributary migratory fish priorities across the Great Lakes, based on occurrence frequencies, abundance, and Great Lakes occurrence frequencies adjacent to the downstream outlet. Priority tributary watersheds were identified separately for connected reaches and unconnected (by dams) reaches. Migratory fish priorities vary substantially both among and within lake basins. Results presented will be used in optimization modeling for barrier removal (i.e., Fishworks) that balance migratory fish benefits against barrier removal risks, such as sea lamprey proliferation. We will also be using the data assembled for more comprehensive predictive modeling of tributary priorities for migratory fish.

Monday January 25, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am EST