On Monday, October 29th, at 1:30pm in room 3317 of the Science Complex at the University of Guelph, one of my grad students – Kat Ryan – will be defending her Masters thesis entitled Distribution and Abundance of Larval Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in Stokes Bay, Lake Huron (abstract below).
While I wasn’t Kat’s advisor (I sat on her committee), we worked together a lot during her Masters and I’m super stoked and super proud of what she has accomplished. I can’t wait to see her presentation.
Lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) are an ecologically, culturally, and economically important species through the Great Lakes. Studying the larval period of ontogeny is important to increasing knowledge of population dynamics and monitoring ecological changes in lake whitefish populations. Larval lake whitefish have been studied across the Great Lakes since the 1930’s; however, there are major gaps in our understanding of the factors that affect distribution and abundance of larval lake whitefish. The goal of this study was to investigate the distribution and abundance of larval lake whitefish in a Great Lakes embayment, using Stokes Bay, Lake Huron as a case study. Plankton samples and environmental data were collected from mid-spring to early summer during 2011 and 2012. Plankton tows in 2011 (n=71, 21 April-03 June) revealed relatively high densities of larval lake whitefish as compared to other Great Lakes studies. Overall there was litter relationship between environmental variables (temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, depth) and larval lake whitefish distribution and abundance. Plankton tows in 2012 (n=25, 25 April-23 May) revealed a virtual absence of larval lake whitefish in Stokes Bay. The apparent 2012 year-class failure was concurrent with unseasonably warm temperatures and reduced ice coverage. Temperature-related hypotheses are evaluated in context with other possible explanations of a general year-class failure of lake whitefish during early life history.
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