Status of Lake Erie s Western Basin Fish Populations: Trends and Environmental Conditions

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1 Status of Lake Erie s Western Basin Fish Populations: Trends and Environmental Conditions Jeff Tyson Ohio Department of Natural Resources Ohio Division of Wildlife

2 Status of the Lake Erie s Western Basin Fish Populations Sampling Programs Ohio harvest assessment programs Ohio gillnet sampling Ohio trawling programs Acoustic sampling program Other programs Lower trophic level Diet assessment

3 Outline Status of Predators Status of Forage Status of Lower Trophic Levels Environmental Conditions

4 Predators Walleye abundance has declined Highly variable recruitment Large 2003 year-class Extremely poor year-classes in more recent years Changes in distribution Growth stable Abundance Index Millions of fish Adult Walleye Walleye Hatch Strength

5 Predators Yellow perch abundance has increased Year-class strength highly variable Large 1996 and 2003 yearclasses, average 2007 yearclass Increased growth (due to increased benthos) M illio n s o f F is h Abundance Index Adult Perch Western Central Perch Hatch Strength

6 Predators Declining smallmouth bass abundance in west 1.2 Smallmouth Abundance Round goby effect on spawning success Fish per hour Potential cormorant depredation Increasing in abundance in other systems (due to warming)

7 Predators Increases in number of phytophilic species Associated with more extensive submerged aquatic beds CPHT Black Crappie White Crappie Largemouth Smallmouth Bluegill Pumpkinseed Pike Year Increased number of lake sturgeon, particularly in survey gear

8 Forage Gradient in prey fish community west to east Higher diversity west Lower diversity east Clupeids, shiners dominate in west West Basin East Basin Rainbow smelt dominate in east

9 Forage Functional forage groups Large decreases in age-0 white perch Forage abundance (fish/hectare) West Basin Forage Spiny-rayed Soft-finned Clupeid Decreases in clupeids Increases in shiners Year Emerald Shiners 15 Catch/Ha

10 Lower Trophic Levels Trends in Dreissenids Zooplankton Biomass Total Phosphorus Zooplankton biomass (ug/l) Year

11 Dreissena Biomass Wet weight (g m -2 ) D. polymorpha D. bugensis West Central East West Central East R.Dermott, DFO

12 Zooplanktivory Zooplankton Mean Length (mm) low high east, offshore west-central, off west, offshore east, nearshore west-central, near west,nearshore Year

13 Total Phosphorus St Clair west central east Total phosphorous (µg / L) ± 64.7 Maumee R 8.3 ± ± ± ± Year expected decrease west to east (F 2,580 = , p = 0.00) increasing trend with time (2001 low) (F 4,580 = 7.76, p = 0.00)

14 Total Phosphorus Tributary Loads and Open Water Values

15 Environmental Conditions Water Clarity Walleye Aquatic Vegetation Water quality Blue-green algal blooms Dissolved oxygen Dreissenids Water Level Changes Climate variability/change Surface Temperature Exotic introductions Habitat degradation

16 Fish Population Health Fish Population Health Fish Population Health

17 Fish Population Health Management Levers Fish Population Health Fish Population Health

18 Management Levers - Environment

19 Conclusions Instability pervasive predators, forage, lower trophics, habitat Fisheries Managers manage at the end of the pipe Assessment Exploitation (harvest) management Production management?

20

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