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Fish species composition, distribution and abundance trends in the open-coastal waters of northeastern Lake Ontario, 1992–2012

Hoyle, J. A.
Aquatic ecosystem health & management 2015 v.18 no.1 pp. 89-100
Alosa pseudoharengus, Ambloplites rupestris, Coregonus clupeaformis, Lota lota, Micropterus dolomieu, Neogobius melanostomus, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, Perca flavescens, Salmo trutta, Salvelinus namaycush, basins, biogeography, fish, fish communities, gillnets, prognosis, species diversity, summer, Lake Ontario, Saint Lawrence River
Bottom set gill nets were used to describe and track the fish community in northeastern Lake Ontario from 1992–2012. Six fixed, depth-stratified transects, spread more or less evenly from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in the Kingston Basin to Brighton in central Lake Ontario, were sampled annually during summer. The balanced sampling design provided a broad picture of the warm, cool and coldwater fish community inhabiting open-coastal waters out to about 30 m water depth. Catch results were summarized by geographic area and depth strata to describe species distribution patterns, and presented graphically to illustrate annual abundance trends of the most important fish species (Alewife, Lake Trout, Yellow Perch, Walleye, Round Goby, Lake Whitefish, Brown Trout, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Chinook Salmon, Burbot, Cisco and Round Whitefish). Many of these dominant species showed peak abundance levels in the early 1990 s followed by decline. Of particular note, members of the coldwater benthic-oriented species assemblage, having all declined dramatically in the 1990s, remain at very low abundance levels, and their future prognosis appears bleak.