Influence of shoreline features on fish distribution in the Laurentian Great Lakes

Wei, A., Chow-Fraser, P., and Albert, D.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
(2004) 61: 1113–1123. doi: 10.1139/F04-061


In this paper, we used assembled fish distributions (over 9500 field observations) and correlated them with 11 categories of the Great Lakes shoreline (i.e., bedrock, bluff, coarse beach, sandy beach – dune, sandy–silty bank, clay bank, low riverine – coastal plain, composite, wetland, artificial, and unclassified) to validate the appropriateness of classifying Great Lakes fishes into three species complexes (taxocenes) that account for differences in their depend- ence on shoreline features. A χ2 goodness-of-fit test with Bonferroni correction indicated a significant positive associa- tion between the presence of fish and three shoreline classes: wetland, sandy beach – dune, and bluff. The Dutilleul modified t test was used to quantify the correlation between wetlands and distribution of the 25 most abundant species and those of different functional groupings. Our results confirm that (i) the Great Lakes fish community utilizes certain shoreline features (especially wetlands) disproportionately to their availability, (ii) the distribution of wetland-associated taxa is influenced by wetland type (i.e., protected embayment versus open-shoreline wetland), and (iii) the preferred utilization of coastal wetlands by a majority of the fish community is consistent across geographical scales, from the local site to the entire Great Lakes shoreline.

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