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Monday, January 29 • 5:00pm - 5:20pm
SALMONIDS: Implications of Atlantic Salmon Stocking for Great Lakes Food Webs and Contaminant Exposure

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AUTHORS. Brandon S. Gerig, Northern Michigan University; Sean Cullen, University of Notre Dame; Dominic T. Chaloner, University of Notre Dame; Roger Greil, Lake Superior State University; Ashley H. Moerke, Lake Superior State University; Gary A. Lamberti, University of Notre Dame

ABSTRACT. Salmonines are important components of the Great Lakes fishery. However, invasive species, especially Dreissenid mussels, have shifted energy flow and contaminant cycling from the pelagic to the benthic zone in Lake Huron. This altered food web structure is linked to population declines in Chinook salmon. Consequently, state management agencies have increased stocking of Atlantic salmon to maintain diversity in the recreational fishery. In this study, we used stable isotopes of carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N), along with mercury (Hg) to compare food web position and bioaccumulation among Lake Huron salmonines, especially Atlantic salmon, compared with other species. When comparing isotopic niche space, Atlantic salmon exhibit significant overlap with both Chinook and coho salmon, suggesting reliance on similar prey resources. However, Atlantic salmon accumulate significantly lower quantities of Hg than Chinook salmon but are equal to coho salmon. Differences in life history, movement, and consumption rates may have contributed to lower mercury accumulation in Atlantic salmon compared to Chinook. From a food web perspective, increasing abundance of Atlantic salmon through stocking may be a preferred fisheries management strategy to reduce predator impacts on sensitive prey fish populations and reduce human exposure to dangerous contaminants such as mercury. Our survey highlights how collaboration between universities and state and federal agencies can promote proactive fisheries management.

Monday January 29, 2018 5:00pm - 5:20pm CST