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

Georgia Project

Evaluating the Effects of Increased Predator and Competitor Abundances on Slimy Sculpin Populations in the Great Lakes

January 2020 - December 2024


Participating Agencies

  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Native sculpin species, including slimy sculpin, have been declining in abundance in the Great Lakes. At the same time, ecosystem changes have occurred in the lakes that may have influenced slimy sculpin population dynamics, including invasion of the Great Lakes by round goby and dreissenid mussels, declines in abundance of prey items, and increases in the natural reproduction of native lake trout. Slimy sculpin are an important prey fish in the Great Lakes, and their decline could lead to effects at higher trophic levels. We are partnering with scientists from the USGS Great Lakes Science Centers (Michigan, New York, Wisconsin), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan State University to evaluate potential drivers of slimy sculpin decline. This investigation includes laboratory experiments, environmental DNA analysis in Lake Michigan, and modeling of sculpin and lake trout dynamics. The results of this research can reduce key uncertainties around the effects of ecosystem change on trophic dynamics in the Great Lakes.

Presentations Presentation Date
Hoekwater, J., K.F. Robinson, K. Keeler, S. Ang, R. Tingley, D. Hondorp, D. Bunnell, J. Janssen, M. Kornis, B. Weidel. 2024. Competition between round goby and slimy sculpin in a laboratory setting. Annual Conference of the Michigan Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, East Lansing, MI. August 2023