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Understanding Fish Responses to Low Dissolved Oxygen
Understanding how hypoxia modifies habitat, behavior, and potential production of important fish stocks
April 2021 - December 2022
Restoration and spatial management of important fish stocks in Lake Erie is underpinned by a habitat-based framework that guides spatially-explicit research, assessment, and decision making. These efforts have been hampered by a lack of information about the production of stocks from various habitats to the overall fishery. Consequently, there is a need to understand impacts of seasonally variable and geographically dynamic factors that influence food webs and production via habitat quality, habitat availability, and fish behavior. Most notably, seasonal hypoxia in Lake Erie has increased in extent and severity during the past two decades due to an increase in soluble reactive phosphorous as a limiting nutrient for primary production. Hypoxia has manifold effects on the Lake Erie ecosystem, including significant modifications to fish refuge habitat availability, benthic forage distribution, and the fisheries productivity of cool and cold-water species. This study will utilize the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System to provide an unprecedented understanding of hypoxia and its impacts on key fishery species. Specifically, the GLATOS infrastructure will be strategically equipped with data loggers to continuously record bottom temperature and dissolved oxygen during the 2021 season to pair with tagged fish that will directly observe habitat use and behavioral responses to hypoxia.