Updating predator-prey stocking models and strategies in Lake Michigan


Kelly Robinson, Michigan State University

Updated Decision Analysis to Inform Multi-Species Salmonine Management in Lake Michigan

As natural resource managers reassess the way they stock trout and salmon species in Lake Michigan, Assistant Professor Kelly Robinson from Michigan State University will update models that forecast salmonine fish populations while incorporating benefits, risks, and tradeoffs of different stocking strategies. Lake Michigan’s fishery stakeholders will be part of the decision-making process.

Project Overview (PDF)

Final Report: Updated Decision Analysis to Inform Multi-Species Salmonine Management in Lake Michigan (PDF)

I once caught a fish "THIS BIG": Using participatory photovoice to understand Michigan's Great Lakes anglers


Erin Burkett, Graduate student fellow, Michigan Technological University

What draws Michigan women to pick up a fishing pole? How does a Lake Michigan fishing trip differ from an experience on Lake Superior? What might attract new anglers to the pastime? These are questions Erin Burkett, a doctoral student at Michigan Technological University, and researchers at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources hope to answer. Recreational fishing rates are declining across Michigan, leading some to wonder whether this important economic engine will remain viable in the future. To understand women’s experiences and motivations for fishing, Burkett will engage groups of anglers in a form of qualitative data-gathering called “participatory photovoice,” a technique that encourages participants to snap photographs that capture the essence of their individual experiences, then share the stories behind the images.

Project overview (PDF)

Final report (PDF)

Cisco restoration in Lake Michigan

Sara Adlerstein, University of Michigan

Cisco, once the dominant prey species in the Great Lakes, have been decimated by overfishing, habitat loss, and invasive species. Today, new opportunities are rising to restore cisco populations in Lake Michigan. However, there are diverse views on the best strategies for cisco restoration. This project will pull together stakeholders who are most likely to be affected by cisco restoration efforts. The research team will help resource managers evaluate policy options and identify necessary tools and data for future restoration activities.

Project overview (PDF)

Status and Trends (PDF)

Expanding Michigan's aquaculture into a sustainable seafood industry

Christopher Weeks, Michigan State University

Aquaculture has grown tremendously on a global scale in recent decades and now meets nearly half the world’s seafood demand. Michigan has the potential to support a vibrant aquaculture industry. However, commercial aquaculture development in Michigan has been stagnant since 1991. This project is designed to identify and address the current underdeveloped aquaculture industry in Michigan. The research team will ultimately develop a Strategic Action Plan for expanding the state’s current commercial aquaculture program into a major sustainable seafood industry.

Project: R/AQ-1
Project overview (PDF)

Project report (PDF)

Detroit River fish consumption advisories

Donna Kashian, Wayne State University

Researchers conducted interviews and organized three workshops — involving 67 stakeholder groups, such as community health and fisheries professionals from U.S. and Canadian agencies — to help focus the project on the most important research questions. Contaminant bioaccumulation models were used to predict PCB levels in fish not currently tested and to estimate the role of new and legacy pollution sources. New signs and brochures are already being distributed to help anglers choose safe fish species.

Project: R/WQ-2

Project overview (PDF)

Project report (PDF)

State of Michigan Eat Safe Fish site

Evaluating harvest policies for yellow perch in Lake Michigan

James Bence and Michael Jones, Michigan State University

To improve the management of Lake Michigan’s yellow perch population, Sea Grant-funded scientists at Michigan State University used a combination of fish stock assessment results and stakeholder input to develop a state-of-the-art decision analysis model. Results of the analyses are informing fisheries management decisions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin as the states adopt yellow perch harvest management regulations. This work has also contributed to national and international fisheries harvest policy discussions.

Project: R/FM-2

Spatial genetic structuring of forage fish in the upper Great Lakes: Evidence for a subdivided forage base and implications for structuring in predatory fish species

Kim Scribner, Michigan State University
Wendy Stott, U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center

Alewife, smelt, sculpin, and bloater have something in common: together with several other species, these fish comprise what’s known as the forage base in the upper Great Lakes. As such, they provide meals for important predatory fish such as lake trout and salmon. This study used genetic testing to identify the movement and distribution of forage fish to better understand how they are related to top predator populations. Researchers identified the relative importance of predation and habitat characteristics in structuring fish communities.

Project: R/GLF-52

The use of cDNA microarrays to identify genes involved in the immunotoxicity of benzo(a)pyrene in the rainbow trout

Mohamed Faisal, Michigan State University

Project: R/NIS-11

Effects of habitat characteristics on the distribution, growth, and survival of juvenile fish in the Great Lakes wetlands

Thomas Coon, Michigan State University

Project: M/PD-1

Overwinter mortality of age-zero lake herring in relation to body size, physiological condition, and water temperature

Alan Sutton, Purdue University

Project: M/PD-6

Developing and communicating improved methods of fish stock assessment

Jim Bence, Michigan State University

Project: R/GLF-50

Application of decision analysis to Great Lakes fishery management

Michael Jones and Jim Bence, Michigan State University
Randall Peterman, Simon Fraser University

Researchers developed and presented decision analysis models for two case studies: one on sea lamprey control in the St. Mary’s River and another on salmonine stocking in Lake Michigan. The results influenced management decisions and strategic thinking of the participating agencies. Notably, the sea lamprey case study provided pivotal information to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s planning for future lamprey control on the St. Mary’s River and may influence barrier planning and stream selection. Project researchers are also working with the Lake Erie Committee on decision analysis for walleye management and have provided advice to managers with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for management issues on Lakes Huron and Ontario.

Project: R/GLF-49

Recruitment failure of yellow perch in SE Lake Michigan: Evaluation of the starvation and predation hypotheses

David Jude, University of Michigan

This research evaluated two explanations for why yellow perch larvae were not surviving and maturing successfully in southern Lake Michigan. The research was part of a dual project co-funded by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and also part of a consortium of 20 to 30 yellow perch researchers — the Yellow Perch Task Group — brought together under the auspices of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Work by the Yellow Perch Task Group documented and drew attention to the problem that yellow perch larvae were not successfully surviving and sustaining healthy adult populations. This research led to the closing of three commercial fisheries in the 1990s and a reduction of sport fishing catch in all states, allowing yellow perch populations to begin recovering.

Project: R/GLF-45

Physical and biological processes influencing recruitment of walleye

Daniel Hayes and Michael Jones, Michigan State University

Project: R/GLF-47

Understanding and managing for variation in the Lake Michigan salmonine fishery

Jim Bence and Daniel Hayes, Michigan State University

This research has had a positive impact on the management of lake trout and lake whitefish populations, particularly in areas of the Great Lakes that are jointly controlled by U.S., Canadian, and tribal authorities. Fisheries managers rely on data about the past and current size of fish populations, called stock assessments, to make decisions about healthy levels of fishing. With Sea Grant funding, Bence evaluated the performance of stock assessment methods, which has led to improvements in the methods used to track fish populations. In addition, Sea Grant sponsored two short courses on stock assessment methods that were heavily attended by agency fishery biologists charged with ongoing stock assessments.

Project: R/GLF-46