Spatial and temporal variation in age distribution and growth of Lake Michigan burbot, Lota lota lacustris, and potential effects of climate change
Lake ecosystems contain interacting, ever-changing habitats and organisms controlled by biological, physical, and chemical processes. Exotic species introductions have dramatically changed the Great Lakes fish communities in the last 150 years. Sea lamprey followed by alewife invasions have altered the ecosystem of Lake Michigan. Historically, lake trout and burbot were in equal abundance. Now, lake trout having been nearly extirpated by the sea lamprey and struggle to reproduce; thus burbot thrive. Due to the limited information on the burbot in Lake Michigan, a study to assess the spatial and temporal variations of age distribution and growth can allow for better understanding of its role in its living environment. The purpose of this study was to document the age structure and spatial distribution of Lake Michigan burbot over a multi-year period and use this information, along with surface water temperature data from the same time period, to analyze changes in burbot populations.