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The Impact of Diporeia Spp. Decline on the Great Lakes Fish Community

The Impact of Diporeia Spp. Decline on the Great Lakes Fish Community

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory on Jun 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/09/2013

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NOAA Great Laes Environmental Resear Laborator • 4840 S. State Rd. • Ann Arbor MI 48108 • 734 741-2235
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ThE IMpAcT Of DIpOREIA Spp. DEcLINEON ThE GREAT LAkES fISh cOMMuNITy
Indstr faesunertain ftre
Sport Fishing in the Great Lakes isvalued at over $4 billion per year, withcommon catches consisting of laketrout, salmon, walleye, and yellow perch. With the coincident introductionof the zebra mussel and disappearanceof the important shrimp-like amphipod
 Diporeia
, food available to the GreatLakes sheries is being disrupted.Sport sh, such as adult salmon andtrout, feed mainly on prey sh such asalewife, bloater, smelt, and sculpin, andthese sh rely on
 Diporeia
for food. Also,lake whitesh, an important commercialspecies, feed mostly on
 Diporeia
as well.Although other organisms are present onthe lake oor, they are not as readilyfed upon by sh and are not as rich incalories as
 Diporeia
.
cange in te food Web and potentialImliations
Researchers at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab routinelymonitor the abundance of the amphipod
 Diporeia
at 160 sites in Lake Michigan.Sampling has been conducted in 1994/95, 2000, and 2005. Data from 2005 showsthat
 Diporeia
abundance continues to decline and that they are now completelygone from large areas of the lake.“Exact mechanisms are unclear, but the decline of 
 Diporeia
is related to theintroduction and expansion of the zebra and quagga mussels,” says Tom Nalepa,a GLERL biologist who has been sampling Lake Michigan sediments since theearly 1980s. One theory is that mussels are outcompeting
 Diporeia
for availablefood.
 Diporeia
live in the bottom mud and feed mostly on algae settling from thewater column. Now, large concentrations of mussels residing on the lake bottommay be ltering out algae and thereby depriving food to amphipods, according to Nalepa. Yet inconsistent with this theory is the fact that individual
 Diporeia
showno signs of starvation. Between 1994 and 2000,
 Diporeia
densities declined froman average of 5200 per square meter over the entire lake down to 1800. In 2005,the average density was only 300 per square meter.While many species of sh will readily eat
 Diporeia
, few species can use zebraand quagga mussels for food. Moreover, even if a sh species does eat thesemussels, they are provided with a food value much lower than that of 
 Diporeia
.Evidence suggests that declines in
 Diporeia
are having a signicant impact on sh populations throughout the Great Lakes.In Lake Erie, the loss of 
 Diporeia
was likely a factor in the severe decrease in smeltstocks in the 1990s. The shery in Lake Erie in the 1980s, before zebra musselscolonized the lake, centered on smelt, walleye, yellow perch, and salmonids.Smelt were particularly abundant, and supported a large commercial shery inthe central and eastern basin until their decline. In addition, the decline of slimysculpin and young lake trout in Lake Ontario may have been caused by the largeloss of 
 Diporeia
. Estimates of the slimy sculpin and lake trout populations inLake Ontario showed a 95% decline between the late 1980s and 1996. In LakeMichigan, however, many sh populations are now sacricing health to feed off zebra mussels. Whitesh, for example, shifted from a diet of 25-75%
 Diporeia
, toone of largely zebra mussels.
Wat is Dioreia?
A tiny, shrimp-like organism,
 Diporeia
is normally the dominant benthic invertebrate inmost offshore areas of the Great Lakes.
 Diporeia
is environmentally sensitive, requiringclean, cold, well oxygenated water for growth and survival. It is native to the GreatLakes, having been present since the receding of the glaciers.
 Diporeia
have a high lipidcontent, with lipids often exceeding 30% of its total weight. As a result, it is rich in caloriesand a good source of energy for sh. Since
 Diporeia
normally make up over 70 percent of theliving biomass in healthy lake bottoms in offshore areas, their decline in the Great Lakes is adverselyaffecting a variety of sh species that depend heavily on them for food.
Sport Fish
(Trout, Salmon,Walleye)
Prey Fish
(Alewife, Bloater,Smelt, Sculpin)
Commercial Fish
(Whitesh)
 Diporeia
Great Lakes Food Web

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