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Tuesday, January 26 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Understanding The Roles of Physical Processes In Lake Sturgeon Habitat Restoration

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AUTHORS: Jason L. Fischer*, USGS Great Lakes Science Center Edward Roseman, USGS Greg Kennedy, USGS Jaquie Craig, USGS Bruce Manny, USGS David Bennion, USGS

ABSTRACT: Lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens were historically abundant throughout the St. Clair-Detroit River system (SCDRS). However, overfishing and removal of spawning substrate through construction of shipping channels from the late 1800s to mid-1900s led to declines in lake sturgeon populations within the system. Regulations currently protect adult lake sturgeon from overfishing, but loss of spawning substrates continues to limit reproduction and recruitment. Artificial spawning reefs composed of 10-20 cm limestone have been built in the SCDRS to reintroduce spawning substrates lost to shipping channel construction and improve lake sturgeon reproduction. However, the reefs are only functional when the cobble is exposed and interstitial spaces are present for egg deposition and incubation. Recent sedimentation of reefs has called for a detailed assessment of flow and sediment characteristics at constructed and potential reef sites. Flow patterns and substrates at artificial reef sites were mapped with an acoustic Doppler current profiler, side-scan sonar, and underwater video to identify characteristics of successful projects. Maps of substrates and water velocities revealed patterns associated with reefs that have remained functional and areas that have experienced in-filling. In particular, areas where water velocity near the river bottom increased from up- to downstream tended to remain free of fine sediments and the presence of fine sediments prior to reef construction may limit the functional life span of an artificial spawning reef. These findings have helped guide recent artificial spawning reef restoration projects and provide a foundation for future reef restoration within the SCDRS and other connecting channels of the Laurentian Great Lakes.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 2:40pm - 3:00pm EST
Emerald B