Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Development of fish habitat metrics for nearshore littoral zones of north temperate lakes

July 2009 - December 2012


Participating Agencies

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The complexity and diversity of structural habitats in nearshore littoral zones are highly variable and serve as important spawning, foraging, and nursery sites for many fish species. The objective of this research was to develop and test metrics that can be used to index structural habitat as it relates to fish community in nearshore littoral zones of north temperate lakes. For five study lakes, nearshore littoral zone habitat was quantified. Measurements of depth, macrophyte structure, substrate, and coarse woody structure of sites were collected by snorkelling at 30-40 sites having varying levels of complexity. Additionally, adjacent riparian zone features including slope, basal area, canopy coverage, and human development were measured. Fish community data was collected using electrofishing. Metrics relating structural habitat to fish species diversity, richness, and abundance in addition to estimating the probability of spawning at sites were developed. These fish habitat metrics will be developed into multimetric habitat quality indices to provide among-site, among-lake, and among-region comparisons used to identify habitat management strategies that can protect, restore, or enhance littoral zone habitats.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Orlando, J.L. 2013. The relationship between littoral zone fish habitat metrics and species assemblages in north temperate lakes. M.S. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 128 p. January 2013