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Community stability within the St. Marys River fish community: Evidence from trawl surveys

Schaeffer, Jeffrey S., Bowen, Anjanette K., Fielder, David G.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2017 v.43 no.2 pp. 399-404
Perca flavescens, biomass, fish, fish communities, game fish, invasive species, rivers, surveys, temporal variation
A trawl survey was conducted in the Saint Marys River during 2010–2011 and we compared our results to a prior trawl survey conducted during 1979–1983 to look for long-term changes in the fish community, especially in terms of changes induced by invasive species. We found no substantive temporal differences in fish density, fish biomass, or fish diversity; lower trawl biomass during 2010–2011 was likely a result of day versus night trawling. The Saint Marys River remains a center of high fish diversity, invasive species remain rare, and the system continues to exhibit overall long-term stability. Trawling captured a wide range of fish species, but was likely not an effective stock assessment tool for managed game fish because catch rates were low or variable for all game species except yellow perch. Trawling appeared to be an effective tool for sampling connecting channel diversity, especially when large numbers of individuals are needed for directed studies, but annual sampling would be needed to use data to assess recruitment.