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Wednesday, January 27 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Insights Into The Habitat Use and Spawning Behavior of a Unique Lake Trout Salvelinus Namaycush Population In Elk Lake, Michigan

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AUTHORS: Kyle Broadway*, Central Michigan University; Kevin Pangle, Central Michigan University; Tracy Galarowicz, Central Michigan University; Randall Claramunt, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Jory Jonas, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Lake Michigan lake trout Salvelinus namaycush populations collapsed during the middle twentieth century, restoration efforts since have primarily relied upon stocking of non-indigenous forms. To successfully restore populations in Lake Michigan managers often discuss the importance of genetic diversity and lament the loss of remnant forms, however; these efforts have had limited success pointing to the need to consider other forms. A naturally reproducing and self-sustaining population of lake trout resides in Elk Lake, Michigan, which is directly adjacent to Grand Traverse Bay and was historically connected until a dam was constructed in the late 1800s. Elk Lake individuals have proven to be both genetically and morphologically distinct from other forms in the Great Lakes. The goal of this study was to determine if Elk Lake lake trout distinguish themselves in distributional patterns and reproductive behaviors from other Great Lakes forms. We used acoustic telemetry, survey catch-per-unit-effort, egg-predator diets, and passive egg collection to characterize the spawning and distribution patterns of lake trout in Elk Lake. Hydro-acoustics and ponar sampling was used to define bottom substrates where spawning was suspected to occur. Preliminary results suggest that lake trout of Elk Lake reside in water greater than 100 feet in depth during most of the year, remain in deep-water during the spawning period, and do not appear to be reef spawners as is typically associated with lean form lake trout of Lake Michigan. These fish appear to spawn in deep water over clay substrate, a unique spawning behavior in relation to current recognized forms of Lake Michigan lake trout, but has been suggested to have occurred among historical populations. If rehabilitation efforts in Lake Michigan continue to rely upon stocking known self-sustaining strains, the Elk Lake form may warrant strong consideration for future restoration efforts.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST