Contemporary habitat selection and survival of cisco in Lake Erie

Contributing Authors

Richard Kraus (USGS,, Joseph Schmitt (USGS), James Markham (NYSDEC), Christopher Vandergoot (MSU)

Executive Summary

This project addressed impediments to the rehabilitation of Cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Erie through the application of acoustic telemetry to develop novel data on habitat use and survival of experimentally stocked fish. We tagged Cisco at the Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Sciences that were reared to age-4 from egg collections in Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario. Tagged fish were released at two locations in Lake Erie during spring in advance of seasonal stratification and warm summer conditions. The Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System provided data on the detection of tagged fish, including coded information from temperature and predation sensors on the tags. Results demonstrated that naïve hatchery-reared Cisco could locate suitable habitat refugia in the metalimnion of either the central or eastern basin of the lake. This result supported recent retrospective simulation analyses that suitable habitat is not an impediment to Cisco rehabilitation in Lake Erie. None of the tagged fish survived more than 155 days, and predation sensors and behavioral information indicated that predators included coolwater fish (e.g., Walleye), coldwater fish (e.g., Lake Trout), and birds. A scientific report of these results has been submitted to a scientific journal (manuscript is currently in review). The findings have implications for future work that will address a new experimental stocking initiative by NYSDEC by developing strategies to reduce predation mortality.

Funded In

Funding Agency


Restoration Framework Phase

Project Impact



Project Subjects