Whole-lake addition of coarse woody habitat: response of fish populations

Greg G. Sass, S. R. Carpenter, J. W. Gaeta, J. F. Kitchell, T. D. Ahrenstorff

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Lakeshore residential development (LRD) reduces coarse woody habitat (CWH) in lakes resulting in negative effects on fishes. We tested whether the addition of CWH could reverse those effects. We added CWH to Camp Lake, a lake with CWH abundances similar to developed lakes, following 2 years of study of the fish populations in the reference and treatment basins. Both basins were monitored for 4 years following the manipulation. Specifically, we tested for changes in the population dynamics (densities, size-structure, growth), diet, and behavior (habitat use) of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). CWH addition had no discernible effect on fish population dynamics. Diet and behavioral responses were more pronounced in the treatment basin. Prey diversity and availability increased. Piscivory increased, with decreased reliance upon terrestrial prey, for largemouth bass. Habitat use was positively correlated with CWH branching complexity and abundance. Our study suggests that negative effects observed in fish populations through CWH reductions cannot be reversed in the short-term by adding CWH. We recommend that regulations governing the LRD process be protective of CWH. (c) 2011 Springer Basel AG.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255--266
JournalAquatic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


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    Sass, G. G., Carpenter, S. R., Gaeta, J. W., Kitchell, J. F., & Ahrenstorff, T. D. (2011). Whole-lake addition of coarse woody habitat: response of fish populations. Aquatic Sciences, 74(2), 255--266. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-011-0219-2