Project Title: Habitat Quality as a Driver of Lake Erie Walleye Population Dynamics: Past, Present, and Future
Project Outline: Lake Erie has experienced significant ecosystem changes due to climate change and land-use practices. These changes are characterized by warmer and longer growing seasons, more nutrient loading, and ultimately the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie. These changes are likely to alter the availability of quality habitat for ecologically and economically important species like walleye. However, little information exists on how these changes have affected Lake Erie walleye in the past and how the changes will affect walleye populations in the future. My research seeks to investigate what environmental factors have affected walleye recruitment and population dynamics in the past and how recruitment and population dynamics may change in the future under different climate and land-use regimes. This research is especially important due to recent recruitment failures in the west basin of Lake Erie. My research uses linked physical-biological models to investigate how habitat quality has driven recruitment and population dynamics in the past and how recruitment and population dynamics may change under future climate and land-use scenarios.