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Tuesday, January 26 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Comparing Forage Fish Abundance and Productivity Relationships in Ohio Reservoirs

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AUTHORS: Chris G. French*, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Joseph D. Conroy, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Richard D. Zweifel, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Forage fish populations play an important role in the success of many Midwestern reservoir sportfisheries. Variations in forage fish abundance are directly linked to reservoir productivity, which fluctuates temporally (i.e., between years) and spatially (i.e., between reservoirs). To better understand the potential for successful sportfish stocking and recruitment, the Ohio Division of Wildlife regularly estimates forage fish abundance and productivity of managed reservoirs. While each managed reservoir is routinely sampled at least once every 3 years, more intensive statewide assessments have also occurred, resulting in a robust dataset that provides statewide measures of forage fish abundance and productivity. Here, we compare results from 2006–2007 and 2012–2014 assessments for a diverse group of reservoirs. During summer (July–August) forage fish abundance was estimated with mobile hydroacoustic surveys, and productivity was estimated using Secchi transparency, total phosphorus concentration, and chlorophyll a concentration. Overall, forage fish abundance increased with increasing reservoir productivity, with similar relationships in both the 2006–2007 and 2012–2014 assessments. However, forage fish abundances and productivity measures differed between reservoirs and years, resulting in complex trends. Our assessments suggest that reservoir productivity primarily shapes forage fish population dynamics in Ohio reservoirs. Understanding changes in productivity both temporally and spatially may help guide reservoir sportfish management.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST