Model Distribution of Silver Chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana) in Western Lake Erie

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 1:40 PM
Miller (Statehouse Convention Center)
James E. McKenna Jr. , Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science, US Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Cortland, NY
Chris Castiglione , Lower Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Silver chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana) was once a common, important forage fish in Lake Erie, but has declined greatly since the 1950s. Identification of optimal and marginal habitats would help conserve and manage this species. We developed neural networks to use broad-scale habitat variables to predict abundance classes of silver chub in western Lake Erie, where its largest remaining population exists. Model performance was good, particularly for predicting locations of habitat with the potential to support the highest and lowest abundances of this species. Highest abundances are expected in waters >5m deep; water depth and distance to coastal habitats were important model features. These models provide initial tools to help conserve this species, but their resolution of can be improved with additional data and consideration of other ecological factors.