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Monday, January 29 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
SYMPOSIA-05: Large Woody Debris and Fish Habitat Structure Additions: Picking the Right Lakes, Setting Expectations, and How to Best Implement

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AUTHORS. Greg G. Sass, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Stephanie L. Shaw, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Andrew L. Rypel, University of California-Davis; Joshua K. Raabe, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Scott Toshner, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Pamela Toshner, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Addition of trees to the littoral zones of lakes is a commonly used management practice aimed to restore fish habitat. However, fishery and aquatic ecosystem outcomes of this management practice have rarely been evaluated. Removals of coarse woody habitat (CWH) from lakes as a result of lakeshore residential development, physical removal, and lake level decline have resulted in reduced fish growth rates, functional extirpations of forage fishes, and changes in fish behavior. Studies of CWH additions have not entirely reversed the negative influence of CWH loss; however, have served to attract fishes, increase prey diversity available to fishes, and alter fish behavior. Further, fish habitat use and habitat partitioning among various fish species was positively correlated with the complexity and density of CWH. Currently, several management issues and critical research needs remain regarding lake structural restorations including: 1) Does CWH only attract fishes?; 2) Does CWH increase fish production and change the trophic basis of production?; 3) Are CWH additions beneficial to all fish species?; 4) What are the roles of CWH addition versus fish cribs for restoring fish structural habitat; and 5) How does CWH addition influence angler behavior and effort and the associated sustainability of fisheries? An ongoing long-term study of CWH addition (tree drops) will be discussed that aims to address these management and research needs by examining fish production (muskellunge, walleye, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, rock bass) and aquatic ecosystem responses to this management practice on a northern Wisconsin lake along with providing recommendations for resource managers. Previous research in a different northern Wisconsin lake provided evidence that much of the carbon found in fishes is derived from terrestrial inputs. Therefore, we hypothesize that CWH addition will enhance beneficial nutrient input to the lake, be incorporated into the food web, and increase overall fish production.

Monday January 29, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm CST