UToledo Lake Erie Center

Aquatic Ecology Lab - Areas of Research

Western Lake Erie and tributaries: critical fish habitat

Goal: Quantify habitat use by walleye, whitefish, sturgeon and other fish to assess areas critical to conservation and management of Lake Erie fisheries.

  • The presence of walleye stocks in tributaries is important to lake-wide population stability.  Increasing production from river stocks, which are currently smaller than the open-reef spawning stock could reduce fluctuations in the total population.
  • Large scale habitat restorations in the Detroit and St Claire River System are being used by sportfish and other species.  Long-term monitoring of restoration sites is critical for determining their value to lake-wide fisheries.
  • The Maumee River provides spawning habitat for about 500,000 walleye each year.  However, there may be a barrier to walleye migration to high quality upstream habitat.
  • Larval fish diversity in the Maumee River is higher than the 1970s, suggesting partial recovery; consistent with improved water quality.
  • The Maumee River has sufficient high-quality spawning habitat to support the reintroduction of Lake Sturgeon.  Rearing and release of juvenile lake sturgeon is planned for 2018!
  • Whitefish are now documented as spawning both on offshore reefs and in Maumee Bay.  Ongoing research will help identify bottlenecks to recruitment and sensitive habitats.

UT Former Graduate Researchers: Jeremy Pritt, Mark DuFour, Brian Schmidt
Collaborators: DOW, USGS, NOAA, BGSU, OSU
Support: NOAA SeaGrant, OH DNR-DOW, USGS

Publications: Pritt et al. 2013

Nearshore community: shoreline habitat matters!
Goal: Quantify relationships between the nearshore fish community and shoreline features, especially alterations such as armoring and vegetation removal.

  • Partnership with Ohio DNR Office of Coastal Management and Division of Wildlife
  • A statistically sound sampling protocol for nearshore fish community was developed for OH DNR Division of Wildlife
  • More fish species at vegetated shorelines in protected areas
  • Greater benthic invertebrate diversity with shoreline vegetation 
  • Working with Office of Coastal Management to designate Priority Management Areas.

UT Former Graduate Researchers: Jason RossRachel Kuhaneck and Martin Simonson
Support: Ohio DNR Office of Coastal Management and Division of Wildlife
Collaborators: DOW
Support: DNR-DOW, GLRI

Grass Carp spawning and ecological impacts in Lake Erie

Goal: Provide information on the biology and ecology of non-native grass carp to agency partners to help inform management actions.

  • Documented grass carp spawning in the Sandusky River in 2015.  This is the first known instance of any of the suite of Asian Carp species verified to be spawning in the Great Lakes.
  • Spawning was again detected in the Sandusky River in 2017, likely with higher numbers of eggs present than in 2015.
  • Spawning documented in the Maumee River in 2017
  • Locations where adult grass carp have been captured coincide with lower density of submerged vegetation, suggesting that grass carp herbivory impacts the nearshore plant community.

Dreissenid mussels as ecosystem engineers

Goal: Describe Dreissena effects on ecosystem function

  • Dreissena donate resources to bottom algae
  • Dreissena affect native mayfly habitat selection

Overview presentations:

  • Overview Slideshow: Download PPT || PDF
  • Dreissena effects on benthic algae: Download PPT || PDF

UT Former Graduate Researchers: Kristen DeVannaPatricia Armenio
Collaborators: Cornell, Suny-ESF, USGS, UT, Buffalo State
Support: NYSeaGrant, Lake Erie Protection Fund, EPA-GLRI

Publications: Burlakova et al. 2014DeVanna et al. 2013Mayer et al 2013DeVanna et al 2011Limburg et al. 2010Cecala et. al 2008Zhu et al 2008Lohner et al 2007Qin et al 2007Zhu et al. 2007aZhu et al 2007bZhu et al. 2006Mayer et al. 2001Mayer et al. 2000


Last Updated: 6/27/22