Les Cheneaux Island cisco
Project Title
Movement and habitat use of cisco along a nearshore-offshore gradient in Northern Lake Huron
Project Code
Project Duration
November 2018 - January 2022
Project Description
Ciscoes (Coregonus artedi) were an abundant prey fish that linked lower and upper trophic levels in each of the Great Lakes until overexploitation, non-native fish invasions, and environmental degradation resulted in large-scale extirpation and range reduction in the early 1900s. Presence of closely-related but distinct morphotypes (forms) coexisting in each lake suggests that cisco populations are highly adapted to their local environment, yet basic knowledge of behavioral ecology (e.g., spawning behavior, habitat, site fidelity, home range) critical for restoration and management is poorly understood. Historically, two cisco morphotypes were described in Lake Huron but recent investigations of cisco morphometry have identified a previously undescribed form (so-called "shorthead” cisco) found in the nearshore waters of Lake Huron. The shorthead cisco is now being used to support stocking into Saginaw Bay and understanding habitat preferences and seasonal behavior is critical to support the stocking program. The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that habitat use, seasonal movements, and spawning habitat of shorthead cisco in northern Lake Huron is restricted to nearshore, shallow-water coastal environments. Specifically, we predict that Les Cheneaux Island shorthead cisco do not move to offshore waters (>35 m) of the main basin of Lake Huron but remain predominantly in shallow coastal environments after spawning. This study will provide direct observation of the extent of movements between nearshore and offshore pelagic areas that is critical for determining when, where, and which morphotype should be stocked to achieve restoration goals and conserve biodiversity.
Management Benefits
Participating Organizations