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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Effectiveness of Critical Lake Trout and Coregonid Reef Spawning Habitat Restoration In Northern Lake Michigan: Mitigating Environmental and Invasive Egg Predator Impacts (Part 2)

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AUTHORS: Eric J. Calabro*, Central Michigan University; Randall M. Claramunt, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Matthew E. Herbert, The Nature Conservancy; Tracy L. Galarowicz, Central Michigan University; W. Lindsay Chadderton, The Nature Conservancy; Andrew J. Tucker, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: High-quality nearshore spawning reefs are a rare, critical habitat in Lake Michigan. Anthropogenic impacts, including the introduction of invasive species like round goby Neogobius melanostomus and rusty crayfish Orconectes rusticus, have degraded many nearshore reef habitats, threatening three species that utilize them for spawning: lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis, and cisco C. artedi. The conservation and restoration of high-quality habitat is critical to the recovery and sustainability of these species, as spawning fish tend to focus on small patches of high-quality habitat. A reef complex near Elk Rapids, Grand Traverse Bay, is the only known spawning reef complex used by cisco in Lake Michigan; the reef is also used by lake trout and lake whitefish. An area of the Elk Rapids complex has poor habitat quality as a result of historic iron dock operation, and egg deposition and survival is subsequently low. Baseline rates of invasive egg predators, egg deposition, and egg survival for native reef spawners were quantified yearly on both the adjacent highly productive site, and the degraded site of the reef complex from 2008-2015. Physical characteristics were also quantified on the reference and degraded sites. In August 2015, we added 450 tons of limestone cobble to improve interstitial depth and habitat quality of the degraded site with the goals of increasing native fish egg deposition and retention, and reducing egg loss due to invasive species predation. We examined the effectiveness of the restoration through comparisons to a high-quality reference reef before and directly after restoration. We anticipate that determining the success of this restoration effort will require monitoring across multiple spawning seasons, as egg survivorship varies inter-annually as a function of storm events and predation.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Gerald Ford