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An Ecosystem Perspective on Re-establishing Native Deepwater Fishes in the Laurentian Great Lakes

An Ecosystem Perspective on Re-establishing Native Deepwater Fishes in the Laurentian Great Lakes

North American Journal of Fisheries Management: 1352-1371

ISSN/ISBN: 0275-5947

DOI: 10.1577/m08-194.1

Herein we examine scientific questions related to successful re-establishment of native deepwater fish communities in the Laurentian Great Lakes, and we (1) propose a conceptual model for native deepwater fish communities; (2) review current research and identify research hypotheses for lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, pelagic ciscoes Coregonus spp., and sculpins (Cottus spp. and Myoxocephalus spp.); (3) pose research questions emerging at community and ecosystem levels; and (4) identify high-priority research topics related to population re-establishment. The conceptual model is based on a generalized life cycle nested within processes at the population, metapopulation, community, and ecosystem levels. The conceptual model assumes that variation in population abundance is a natural phenomenon and that biodiversity contributes to ecosystem stability. Key research topics related to lake trout re-establishment include understanding recruitment variation over space and time, identifying sources of early life history mortality, determining the level of genetic differentiation among morphotypes and populations, and comparing the life history and ecology of lean lake trout with those of other lake trout morphotypes. Key research topics related to re-establishing deepwater species of cisco include resolving uncertainties in species identifications, understanding processes maintaining distinctiveness among species, understanding processes leading to cyclic and erratic recruitment, and developing effective propagation methods. Key research topics related to re-establishment of sculpin species include comparing spawning ecology and early life history of each species, determining population structure, and evaluating the feasibility of live-transfer methods. Key research topics related to community- and ecosystem-level interactions include understanding large-scale directional influences on community function, expanding current views on ecological succession in large lakes, and determining the evolutionary role of diel vertical migration in phenotypic diversification of deepwater fishes. Finally, we propose that research in four topical areas are most pertinent to re-establishing native deepwater fishes: life history bottlenecks, population and metapopulation dynamics, matching fish phenotypes to stocking sites, and propagation and stocking methods.

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Accession: 037391656

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