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Mechanisms Affecting Recruitment of Yellow Perch in Lake Michigan

Yellow perch Perca flavescens is the most important nearshore sport  fish in Lake Michigan, comprising nearly 85% of all recreationally  caught fish and forming the basis of a multi-million dollar fishery.  Furthermore, yellow perch is an important ecological link between the  nearshore and pelagic food webs. Despite its economic and ecological  importance, the yellow perch population has declined drastically  during the last decade because of extremely poor recruitment. As a  result, the current annual harvest of yellow perch is significantly  less than the minimum annual harvest targeted by the Lake Michigan  Fish Community Objectives and the present harvest rate is not likely  to increase in the near future. Lakewide monitoring of yellow perch  has revealed that few young-of-year (YOY) yellow perch have been  collected since 1989. However, larval yellow perch densities showed  no appreciable decline until 1994, suggesting that recruitment  failure occurred during the larval stage. In fact, year-class  strength is often determined during the larval stage, although many  possible mechanisms operate to influence year-class strength. It is  the focus of this proposal to explore which mechanisms currently  determine recruitment of yellow perch in Lake Michigan.  We  hypothesize that at least three mechanisms may structure the survival  of larval yellow perch. Food resources (i.e., zooplankton) frequently  limit growth and/or survival of larval fishes, and there are  indications that nearshore zooplankton resources have declined during  the last decade. Predation on larval yellow perch by adult alewife  Alosa pseudoharengus does occur. This impact has not been quantified  in a regional or lakewide context, but yellow perch recruitment is  negatively related to adult alewife abundance. Finally, abiotic  factors associated with upwelling events may interact with resource  availability and predation to influence survival of yellow perch.

In progress
Start Date
End Date
Scope of Study
Field Investigation
Laboratory Investigation
Scale of Phenomena
Resource Management
Lake Basin Connecting Channels
Lake Michigan
Ecosystem Effects
Community Structure
Socio-economic Consideration and Analysis
Resource Management Issues
Annex Numbers
Research & Development
Surveillance and Monitoring
Annex 17
Impact of water quality and AIS on fish and wildlife populations and habitats
  • Annex Numbers
    Annex Numbers
    Research & Development
    Surveillance and Monitoring
  • Annex 17
    Annex 17
    Impact of water quality and AIS on fish and wildlife populations and habitats

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