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

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Stock characteristics of lake whitefish in Lake Michigan

July 2012 - December 2014


Participating Agencies

  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission Project

Lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis support the largest remaining commercial fishery on Lake Michigan and serve an important role in food web dynamics and energy transfer within the lake. Previous work conducted by the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit demonstrated that six distinct genetic stocks of lake whitefish exist in Lake Michigan and that a mixed fishery for lake whitefish does exist within the lake. However, it is not fully known whether population dynamics and demographics vary among these stocks, which could make some stocks more susceptible to overfishing than others. Our objectives for this project are to: (1) determine if capture location during October accurately delineates genetic stock structure of lake whitefish in Lake Michigan in relation to genetic stock, sampling period, gender, or status of gametes; 2) determine if body condition, growth, age structure, gonadosomatic index (GSI), fecundity, egg size, and maturation schedules differ among genetic stocks of lake whitefish in Lake Michigan and 3) determine if stocks would likely respond differently to exploitation based on differences in biological characteristics. Fish for the project will be obtained from commercial and tribal fishers from around the lake. This project is funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and represents a collaborative effort between the FAC, the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, the Wisconsin and Michigan Departments of Natural Resources, and several tribal organizations around Lake Michigan. Sampling for this project will begin in October 2012 and will continue through October 2013.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Belnap, M.J. 2014. Stock characteristics of lake whitefish in Lake Michigan. M.S. Thesis. Univeristy of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 104 p. December 2014