Main content area

Telemetry-Determined Habitat Use Informs Multi-Species Habitat Management in an Urban Harbour

Rous, Andrew M., Midwood, Jonathon D., Gutowsky, Lee F.G., Lapointe, Nicolas W.R., Portiss, Rick, Sciscione, Thomas, Wells, Mathew G., Doka, Susan E., Cooke, Steven J.
Environmental management 2017 v.59 no.1 pp. 118-128
Cyprinus carpio, Esox lucius, Micropterus salmoides, Perca flavescens, acoustics, aquatic habitat, autumn, body size, dredging, fish communities, freshwater, freshwater fish, habitat conservation, habitat preferences, human development, philopatry, regression analysis, summer, telemetry, urbanization, wetlands, Lake Ontario
Widespread human development has led to impairment of freshwater coastal wetlands and embayments, which provide critical and unique habitat for many freshwater fish species. This is particularly evident in the Laurentian Great Lakes, where such habitats have been severely altered over the last century as a result of industrial activities, urbanization, dredging and infilling. In Toronto Harbour, extensive restoration efforts have been directed towards improving the amount and quality of aquatic habitat, especially for fishes. To evaluate the effectiveness of this restoration work, use of the restored area by both target species and the fish community as a whole must be assessed. Individuals from four species (Common Carp, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and Yellow Perch) were tagged and tracked continuously for 1 year using an acoustic telemetry array in Toronto Harbour area of Lake Ontario. Daily site fidelity was estimated using a mixed-effects logistic regression model. Daily site fidelity was influenced by habitat restoration and its interactions with species and body size, as well as season and its interactions with species and body size. Daily site fidelity was higher in restored sites compared to non-restored sites for Yellow Perch and Northern Pike, but lower for Largemouth Bass and Common Carp. For all species, daily site fidelity estimates were highest during the summer and lowest during autumn. The approach used here has merit for evaluating restoration success and informing future habitat management activities. Creating diverse habitats that serve multiple functions and species are more desirable than single-function-oriented or single-species-oriented designs.