Lake Huron Beach Community Historical Comparison and Habitat Assessment

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 10:40 AM
Harris Brake (The Marriott Little Rock)
Jessica Loughner , Biology, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
Tracy L. Galarowicz , Biology, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
James Johnson , Michigan Department Natural Resources, Alpena Fishery Research Station, Alpena, MI
Brent A. Murry , Biology, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
Lake Huron has undergone dramatic shifts in fish community composition as a result of invasive species introductions and food web changes. In particular, zebra mussels and round gobies have greatly impacted near-shore fish communities. Our objective was to assess near-shore fish communities of western Lake Huron and compare species composition post invasion to species composition in 1993, prior to the invasion of zebra mussels and round gobies. Beach fish communities were sampled by nighttime beach seining during spring and summer 2012. In addition, we compared species composition between rocky and sandy beach habitats using minnow traps and modified fyke nets in fall 2012. Species abundance has declined since the pre-invasion period, and species composition has shifted from an alewife and smelt dominated community to a round goby and minnow dominated community. Spotfin shiners, emerald shiners, and sand shiners were found at sites with predominantly sandy substrate.  The observed shift in species composition is largely due to the introduction of invasive species; however, decreased water levels and anthropogenic impacts are also likely contributing factors.