The lake whitefish is a commercially, recreationally, and culturally important fish in our region. However, their population has been on the decline. This began around the time that invasive zebra mussels arrived. These mussels feed on phytoplankton, reducing zooplankton then as well. Young, newly hatched larval fish need zooplankton to survive. One thought for the lake whitefish decline is that this is due to decreased food quantity and quality for larval lake whitefish.
Additionally, we know that fish and zooplankton habitat use can change at night versus day, but this has not been researched much in the Great Lakes.
This project samples larval lake whitefish and zooplankton at day and night.
This project has also gained attention from collaborating agencies, enhancing my professional development, as well as increasing the sample size. Samples are received from the USFWS in Green Bay, WI, the MDNR in Charlevoix, MI, and the Little Traverse and Grand Traverse Bay Bands of Indians. The project worked closely with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians here in the Eastern UP. All are helping me quantify the relationship between this valuable species (lake whitefish) and their food (zooplankton) at day versus night.