Francis J.T.,Waterford Fisheries Station |
Chiotti J.A.,Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office |
Boase J.C.,Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office |
Thomas M.V.,Lake St Clair Research Station |
And 2 more authors.
Journal of Great Lakes Research | Year: 2014
Great Lakes coastal wetlands provide a critical habitat for many fish species throughout their life cycles. Once home to one of the largest wetland complexes in the Great Lakes, coastal wetlands in the Huron-Erie Corridor (HEC) have decreased dramatically since the early 1900s. We characterized the nearshore fish communities at three different wetland complexes in the HEC using electrofishing, seines, and fyke nets. Species richness was highest in the Detroit River (63), followed by the St. Clair Delta (56), and Western Lake Erie (47). The nearshore fish communities in the Detroit River and St. Clair Delta consisted primarily of shiners, bluntnose minnow, centrarchids, and brook silverside, while the Western Lake Erie sites consisted of high proportions of non-native taxa including common carp, gizzard shad, goldfish, and white perch. Species richness estimates using individual-based rarefaction curves were higher when using electrofishing data compared to fyke nets or seine hauls at each wetland. Twelve fish species were captured exclusively during electrofishing assessments, while one species was captured exclusively in fyke nets, and none exclusively during seine hauls. Western Lake Erie wetlands were more indicative of degraded systems with lower species richness, lower proportion of turbidity intolerant species, and increased abundance of non-native taxa. This work highlights the importance of coastal wetlands in the HEC by capturing 69 different fish species utilizing these wetlands to fulfill life history requirements and provides insight when selecting gears to sample nearshore littoral areas. © 2014.