As part of a collaborative research project with fisheries scientists from around the Great Lakes, Northland College Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation researchers set nets in the Fish Creek Sloughs last month to collect data on young fish.

“The project is investigating how coastal wetlands are ‘nursery habitats’ for Great Lakes fish and looking at what those young fish eat when they’re in the wetlands in the fall,” said Research Scientist Matthew Cooper.  “It’s a great time to sample the wetlands because fish that hatched in the spring and summer are now big enough to catch with our nets and some larger fish like steelhead and large redhorse suckers are also cruising the wetlands looking for an easy meal.”

Cooper and his Burke Center team—research associate Marina Hein, a recent graduate, research assistants Megan Mader and Aletha Hefko, both juniors, and volunteer Jenna Miles, a senior—will return to the wetlands in the spring to sample fish that use the wetlands to spawn.

The project is part of a larger effort investigating how coastal wetlands support Great Lakes fisheries. Over a three-year period, the collaborative team will sample thirty-six coastal wetlands from across the Great Lakes basin.

The $23,485 funding for the project is a cooperative agreement with the US Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center with collaborators from USGS, Central Michigan University, University of Minnesota Duluth, and SUNY College at Brockport.

“We hope to find out how much coastal wetlands support the Great Lakes fishery with habitat and food,” Cooper said.

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