Frequently Asked Questions
Green Bay White Sucker
Feasibility of an acoustic telemetry grid to determine adult white sucker spatial ecology
April 2022 - May 2025
Despite being abundant across the Laurentian Great Lakes (GLs), suckers (Catostomidae) are relatively understudied native fishes. Their ecological importance as prey for many other species has long been recognized, and their role in providing spawning grounds with nutrient subsidies that support river and nearshore food webs has been documented recently. Healthy and sustainable fisheries rely on resilient ecosystems where all native species thrive, and an improved understanding of the spatial ecology of non-game fishes in the GLs can strengthen management plans for recreationally and commercially important species. Previous work on the spatial ecology of non-game species such as white suckers (Catostomus commersonii) is scarce and has focused largely on degraded habitats. While these studies are valuable, it is important to have baseline data regarding animal behaviour outside of impaired areas. Insights into sucker spatial ecology outside of degraded habitats is often limited to assessments of movements during spawning migrations and does not capture habitat usage across multiple seasons. There is a pressing need to understand individual and collective movement year-round for the most abundant migratory fish in the GLs. Acoustic telemetry is a powerful tool for documenting fish movements within the GLs, particularly since the establishment of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS) that enables sharing of resources and knowledge. In Lake Michigan, GLATOS researchers have begun deploying grid arrays to document the spatial ecology of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), and cisco (Coregonus artedii), but it is unknown whether this arrangement of receivers, designed for offshore pelagic species, will also provide sufficient coverage to adequately detect the movement and habitat use of benthic species like suckers. The newly deployed receiver grid in Green Bay (GB) presents a unique opportunity to determine if a widely spaced array would be sufficient to elucidate the spatial ecology of suckers, with a focus on white suckers, as they have been the focus of a multi-year spawning site fidelity PIT tag study in the area, led by PI Murchie.