Predation Tag Development
The Great Lakes are home to a unique diversity of species unlike any other temperate freshwater region in North America. Additionally, this region has faced numerous direct and indirect challenges related to human activities including, but not limited to, fishing, introduction of invasive species, pollution from industrial activities and climate change. Despite all of these challenges to the ecosystem the Huron-Erie Corridor (St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River) remains a vibrant ecosystem that has many ecological questions unanswered and is of concern for proper management and conservation of the species present. The current research projects can be broken down into two broad categories:
1) Stable Isotope Analysis of Food Web Structure
Monitoring the movement patterns of individual fish can be quite logistically challenging, but the development of passive acoustic tracking systems has made it possible to implant relatively small tags into fish with minimally invasive surgeries, release the fish back into their habitat, and monitor their movement patterns over extended periods of time. During 2015 we began the process of deploying a fine-scale acoustic array in the Detroit River. My lab is also part of the GLATOS (Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System) network which will provide this project with broad-scale patterns of fish movement because of the wide ranging deployments of acoustic receivers in the Great Lakes region.
During 2015 we began this study by tagging bowfin and largemouth bass, the two most common piscivorous predators in our study area, and two sunfish species that are frequently consumed by a variety of predators. The habitat use information of both predators and prey will provide insights into questions about how species use the available habitat and the interactions across trophic levels. As we continue to develop this acoustic array within this section of the river we plan to expand the species that are tagged and work towards drawing links between habitat use (acoustic telemetry) and foraging patterns (stable isotopes) to further our understanding of this unique ecosystem.