Category: Fisheries

A Survey of Sportfish for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – An Emerging Contaminant in the Great Lakes

  • Determine the concentrations and speciation of PFAS in important Lake Michigan sportfish
  • Evaluate dietary routes for PFAS exposure from prey to predator fish using δ15N and δ13C stable isotopes along with PFAS speciation
  • Assess the relationship between total fluorine and PFAS concentrations to determine the full extent of the PFAS problem
  • Compare observed PFAS concentrations in fish from Illinois-Indiana waters to other areas such as inland Michigan waterways where PFAS are known to be a problem

Assessing the ecological impacts of Eastern Banded Killifish: a native transplant species rapidly expanding its range in Illinois and Indiana

In North America, there are two subspecies of Banded Killifish (Fundulus diaphanus): the Eastern Banded Killifish (F. d. diaphanus) and the Western Banded Killifish (F. d. menona). While Banded Killifish are considered secure across their range, some populations of Western Banded Killifish are considered Vulnerable or Threatened and populations of Eastern Banded Killifish are expanding rapidly into new regions. Subtle differences in the ecology between subspecies has been found to have strong effects on community composition and energy pathways in freshwater ecosystems. Potential ecological differences between Eastern and Western Banded Killifish are unstudied, therefore through this graduate student scholars project we seek to investigate the trophic ecology of Banded Killifish populations from Illinois and Indiana. Using stable isotope analysis, we can determine whether there is an ecological difference in trophic position and dietary niche width between the two subspecies, as well as how the invasion of the Eastern subspecies could impact the Western subspecies and freshwater communities or ecosystems more generally.

Behavior based classification of aquatic invasive fish species in underwater video

Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems. In the Great Lakes, new fish species that are non-native to the environment have been introduced due to transoceanic activities. These species compete with native species causing a heavy toll on the environment and economy by shifting ecological balances and disrupting food chains. While many methods exist to sample fish, due to the increasing availability of underwater video, fish can now be sampled by crowd sourcing or using Image recognition techniques. These methods have highlighted the challenges associated with identifying fish based on their appearance against a cluttered background. This graduate student scholars project aims to identify and model fish behavior in underwater video using machine learning methods that are suited for classification of classification of time series data. Video data of round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) from literature will be used to test the approach. The methods proposed here will significantly increase the usability of existing datasets and enable the creation of life-like animations for use in virtual training environments. 

Benthic Community Response to the Addition of a Nearshore Submerged Shoreline Stabilization Structure and the Subsequent Sediment Accumulation in Southern Lake Michigan

Quantifying the introductory impacts of an artificial reef on the nearshore community in Lake Michigan have not been made a priority in any experimental design. This project aims to mend this lack of understanding by combining biology and geology to create a new understanding of the effects of a newly constructed artificial reef (Rubble Ridges). This will be accomplished by observing the effects of sediment accumulation around a newly constructed artificial reef on benthic community diversity and growth. Sampling at the reef site will include sampling for invertebrates, encrusting organisms, and fish once a month during the sampling season. We will compare the trends from the Rubble Ridges site to the trends from the control site.

The objectives for this study are (1) to determine the difference in abundance and diversity of benthic organisms between the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site and the control site over a 2-year period, (2) to determine if the development of nearshore artificial reefs positively impact benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and (3) to determine if benthic community diversity and abundance changes due to sediment accumulation and changes in sand grain size. We hypothesize that there will be an increase in abundance and diversity in benthic communities at the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site in comparison to the control site, that these artificial reefs will have a positive impact on the benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and that sediment accumulation and larger sand grain size provide suitable habitat areas that will increase the diversity and abundance of the surrounding benthic community. Project managers and scientists can utilize this information in upcoming projects, whose intent is to prevent shoreline erosion, as a means to further understand this relationship.

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