The primary objective of this development project is to evaluate employing trace element contents of fish otoliths to address critical questions of stock discrimination and habitat use of Lake Erie fish. We will first investigate both the bulk elemental fingerprints and trace element zoning patterns of otoliths in adult white bass (Morone chrysops) from the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers, two important Ohio river systems in the Lake Erie watershed, as well as from reef-spawning sites. The primary reasons for using the white bass in this exploratory study are: 1) they spawn in rivers and the reef system of western Lake Erie, so they provide an important analog to walleye; 2) they are spawning currently and we are in a position to collect them; and 3) we have preliminary data suggesting clear partitioning of stocks from the two river systems (based on parasite loading data from 1998). Our long-term goals include establishing and comparing the geochemical signatures of walleye and white bass using the different spawning sites through time to determine if common site-specific signatures are available. However, we must first determine the technique that will provide the most definitive signatures, and white bass provide a timely and appropriate tool for this study.
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