Developing a Long-Term Monitoring Program To Assess The Efficacy Of Spawning Habitat Creation In The St. Clair-Detroit Rivers System

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 9:20 AM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Edward F. Roseman , Great Lakes Science Center, US Geological Survey, Ann Arbor, MI
Justin Chiotti , Alpena FWCO - Waterford Substation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Waterford, MI
Richard Drouin , Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Wheatley, ON
Bruce A. Manny , Great Lakes Science Center, US Geological Survey, Ann Arbor, MI
Todd Wills , Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Harrison Township, MI
The St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) is composed of the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River connecting Lake Huron to Lake Erie in the densely populated Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON metropolitan areas. The waterway is a major navigational and recreational resource of the Great Lakes basin over which more than $80 billion in trade takes place each year. While vibrant lucrative sport fisheries currently exist for several species, the SCDRS was a renowned commercial fishery until about 1910 when channelization for navigation destroyed a large amount of fish spawning habitat. Losses of fish spawning habitat and other environmental perturbations resulted in the designation of the SCDRS as Great Lakes Areas of Concern with losses and degradation of fish habitat designated as a Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI).  Efforts to remediate and delist this BUI have focused on restoring functional spawning habitat for native fishes and three spawning reefs were constructed. To date, scientific investigations focused only on site-specific effectiveness of constructed habitats. While these investigations have done well to provide validation of individual spawning habitat restoration project success, they do not provide a credible measure of fish population and community trajectory as a response to improvements in habitat. Herein, we discuss the need for and desirable attributes of a long-term monitoring program that assesses the effectiveness of fish habitat restoration efforts toward rebuilding fish populations in the SCDRS and how this system serves as an epicenter for restoration of native fishes in the central Great Lakes.