Size segregation and seasonal patterns in rusty crayfish Faxonius rusticus distribution and abundance on northern Lake Michigan spawning reefs.

Jake Kvistad, Tracy L Galarowicz, Krista Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Non-native rusty crayfish are abundant egg predators on spawning reef habitats for lake trout and coregonines in northern Lake Michigan. To better understand rusty crayfish life-history on these unique habitats, we conducted monitoring in 2012 and 2013 at four locations previously identified as spawning areas for native fish. With the aid of a graphical causal model, we conducted an exploratory statistical analysis using a Bayesian multilevel modeling approach with model selection based on information criteria to identify important environmental variables for predicting rusty crayfish distribution and abundance on spawning reefs. We also compared seasonal trends in relative abundance, inferred from catch-per-unit-effort calculations from trapping, to previously reported accounts from a smaller inland lake. The results from our modeling provide evidence of size-class segregation across subtle changes in habitat characteristics of spawning reefs. Specifically, we found evidence that the distribution of >30 mm rusty crayfish was only weakly related to rock density (#/m2) relative to juveniles and smaller size classes. We also observed highest relative abundances from minnow trap monitoring in mid-October when water temperatures averaged 13.9 °C, which is later in the year and at cooler temperatures than similar monitoring from smaller inland lakes has reported. We hypothesize that unique environmental conditions elicit novel life-history responses from rusty crayfish on Lake Michigan spawning reefs and discuss our findings in the context of native fish restoration in the Laurentian Great Lakes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
StatePublished - 2021

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