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The Lake Huron pelagic fish community: persistent spatial pattern along biomass and species composition gradients

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Spatial patterns in the biomass of pelagic fish in Lake Huron have persisted over 10 years even though biomass decreased 86% and the fish community shifted from dominance by non-native species (rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax) to dominance by native species (bloater, Coregonus hoyi). Based on multivariate analyses of acoustic biomass data and abiotic variables from the years 1997, 2004, 2005, and 2007, the strength of relationships between abiotic variables (primarily bottom depth) and fish community composition gradients decreased with fish biomass, suggesting that at high biomass, the influence of the measured abiotic variables is minimal. We observed consistently higher biomass in the North Channel and Georgian Bay than in the Main Basin, and as a result, we conclude that these smaller basins are likely important contributors to lakewide fish biomass, production, and dynamics. These results suggest that at current biomass levels, efforts to understand ecology, population dynamics, and lakewide abundance need to incorporate the effects of depth and geographic variation on fish distributions and ecology.

Les patrons spatiaux de biomasse des poissons pélagiques du lac Huron se sont maintenus sur une période de 10 ans, bien que la biomasse ait diminué de 86% et que la communauté de poissons ait changé d’une dominance par une espèce non indigène (l’éperlan arc-en-ciel, Osmerus mordax) à une dominance par une espèce indigène (le cisco de fumage, Coregonus hoyi). Des analyses multidimensionnelles des données acoustiques de biomasse et des variables abiotiques des années 1997, 2004, 2005 et 2007 montrent que la force de la relation entre les variables abiotiques (surtout la profondeur du fond) et les gradients de composition de la communauté de poissons diminue en fonction de la biomasse des poissons, ce qui laisse croire qu’aux valeurs élevées de biomasse, l’influence des variables abiotiques mesurées est minimal. Nous observons invariablement des biomasses plus élevées dans le chenal du Nord et la baie Géorgienne que dans la cuvette principale et nous en concluons que ces bassins plus petits contribuent vraisemblablement à la biomasse, la production et la dynamique des poissons à l’échelle du lac tout entier. Nos résultats indiquent qu’aux niveaux actuels de biomasse, les tentatives pour comprendre l’écologie, la dynamique de population et l’abondance à l’échelle du lac doivent tenir compte des effets de la profondeur et de la variation géographique sur la répartition et l’écologie des poissons.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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