US Lake Huron Lake Whitefish Movement
Project Title
Habitat use and movement patterns across the lake whitefish stock complex in Lake Huron
Project Code
Project Duration
January 2022 - December 2026
Project Description
Fishery yields of lake whitefish in Lake Huron have been declining over the last two decades. Precise causes of these declines are unknown, but may be associated with invasive species (e.g., Dreissenid mussel expansion and subsequent loss of Diporeia, a key prey item), other food web changes, climate change, and widespread recruitment failure outside the southern main basin. How and why lake whitefish in Lake Huron move throughout the lake is largely unknown. Using acoustic telemetry, we aim to build on our understanding of this ecologically, culturally, and economically important species to better inform management. We hypothesize that seasonal distributions of lake whitefish are determined by a combination of dispersal (foraging and habitat selection) and migration (directed movement to spawning habitat); each of which are conditional strategies mediated by a common set of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. We predict that a common set of responses (movement and habitat use) will be observed among genetically identified stocks but the composition of responses will vary among populations, providing insight into source-sink dynamics that may be useful to improve lake whitefish management in the face of widespread collapse. This project includes lake whitefish tagged in U.S. waters in collaboration with a parallel project taking place in Canadian waters (see LHLWF).
Participating Organizations