Northeast Fishery Center
Northeast Region
 

Recent Projects of the Population Ecology Branch

 

Atlantic Salmon Genetic Characterization

Pallid Sturgeon Genetic Species & Origin Determination

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - eDNA and Next-gen Species Identification Project

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Lake Trout Strain Identification

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Lake Sturgeon Assessment in the Lower Great Lakes

Participation in Priority Species Management within the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)

Adaptive Resource Management of Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots

Genetic Assessment and Long-Term Population Monitoring of Brook Trout in Pennsylvania and Western New York

 

Atlantic Salmon Genetic Characterization

salmon smolts

Atlantic salmon smolts. (Photo Credit: USFWS - CBNFH

 

Atlantic salmon in Maine are classified as endangered. Annual genetic assessment helps to contribute to recovery by monitoring estimates of genetic diversity, assessing management practices, screening incoming broodstock, and guiding breeding protocols in the Maine National Fish Hatcheries.

Back to top

Pallid Sturgeon Genetic Species & Origin Determination

Pallid Sturgeon  

Photo of a pallid sturgeon at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery (Photo Credit: USFWS - GPNFH)

 

Pallid sturgeon are endangered throughout their range. In the Missouri River, genetic monitoring is used to assess the contribution of hatchery-produced pallid sturgeon to the overall population and to guide spawning of wild caught adults in the hatchery programs. Lamar FTC works with a variety of partners to conduct these genetic assessments in the upper and middle Missouri River.

Back to top

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - eDNA and Next-gen Species Identification Project

Next-gen sequencer

Next generation genetic sequencer used in the Conservation Genetics lab at the Northeast Fishery Center. (Photo Credit: USFWS - NEFC)

 

Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is rapidly growing its potential application for monitoring the distribution of invasive species. Lamar FTC is providing technical support in the development and application of these methods for invasive species monitoring using funding support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Back to top

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Lake Trout Strain Identification

Lake Trout

 

Lake trout captured for genetic analysis. (Photo Credit: USFWS - NEFC)

 

Lake trout restoration in the Great Lakes has primarily used hatchery stocking as a management tool to reestablish naturally reproducing populations in each of the Great Lakes. Natural reproduction has been documented off the Niagara River in Lake Ontario since 1995, and egg collections in 2005 by the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office confirmed that lake trout were spawning in the Lower Niagara River following genetic species confirmation. Starting with a GLRI-funded joint project with the USFWS Northeast Fishery Center in Lamar, PA and Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Amherst, NY sampled lake trout in the Niagara River. Based on genetic differences between strains stocked into Lake Ontario, a graduate student through Penn State University was able to identify the strain of origin for sampled lake trout. Continued genetic assessment of lake trout, including those not marked, continues to evaluate which strains may be naturally reproducing in the Niagara River, or other areas of Lake Ontario.

Back to top

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Lake Sturgeon Assessment in the Lower Great Lakes

Tagged Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon recently tagged with pop-off satellite archival tags in a holding tank awaiting release (Photo Credit: USFWS - NEFC)

 

Lake Sturgeon once provided a valuable commercial fishery in the Great Lakes, but Lake Sturgeon populations greatly declined due to over harvest, habitat degradation, and pollution. In cooperation with the Lower Great Lake Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Northeast Fishery Center is conducting multi-faceted Lake Sturgeon research in Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and Lake Ontario. Current studies include implanting Lake Sturgeon with acoustic tags and pop-off archival satellite tags to determine movement and habitat use of Lake Sturgeon; assessing age structure using sections of pectoral spines; mark-recapture for survival and population estimates; habitat mapping using side-scan sonar; genetic analysis to determine how populations are related; and coordinating Lake Erie-wide assessment of the distribution of juvenile Lake Sturgeon. Results from these studies will better define the life history and habitat needs of Lake Sturgeon in the Lower Great Lakes to inform management decisions for the conservation of this species.

Back to top

Participation in Priority Species Management within the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)

ASMFC Logo

 

 

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is a cooperative management body comprised of the states along the Atlantic coast as well as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries. The vision of the ASMFC is, “Sustainably managing Atlantic Coastal Fisheries”. Staff from the NEFC actively participate on individual species technical and stock assessment subcommittees where they provide expertise on species life history, ecology, population dynamics, and stock assessment. Species in which the NEFC staff participates include Striped Bass, Shad & River Herring, American Eel, and Horseshoe Crab. The NEFC is involved in the Assessment Science Committee, which is a group which coordinates individual species assessments and data requirements for assessments. Also NEFC staff often represents the USFWS interests on management boards for various species.

Back to top

Adaptive Resource Management of Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots

Horseshoe Crab and foraging Red Knots

A horseshoe crab and foraging Red Knots (Photo Credit: USFWS)

 

The Delaware Bay ecosystem provides a unique foraging habitat for migrating shorebirds. The birds feed upon the eggs of horseshoe crabs which spawn on the beaches of Delaware Bay in the spring of each year. Declines in horseshoe cab abundance due to over harvest have been implicated in the decline of shorebird species such as the Red Knot, which is now federally listed as a Threatened Species. Horseshoe crab harvest is managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and there was a need to develop a management framework which allowed continued horseshoe crab harvest while at the same time ensuring enough horseshoe crabs remained available to meet the foraging requirements of Red Knots during their migration. Staff from the Northeast Fishery Center has provided population dynamics modeling expertise in the formulation of an adaptive resource management model which is now used by the ASMFC to determine annual harvest limits of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay region.

Back to top

Genetic Assessment and Long-Term Population Monitoring of Brook Trout in Pennsylvania and Western New York

Brook Trout

Pennsylvania brook trout (Photo Credit: USFWS - NEFC)

 

 

Brook trout have been extirpated from many streams and their overall distribution has been reduced throughout the eastern United States. This project is estimating genetic diversity between brook trout populations in Pennsylvania and western New York in relation to habitat connectivity between populations, population isolation, and potential introgression with hatchery fish. This information helps guide decisions regarding prioritization of barriers to remove, and the overall effect of barriers on genetic diversity, gene exchange, and fish movement patterns. This project is also conducting annual population assessments on many stream to understand long-term population trends and how these trends are influenced by density-dependent factors (abundance brook trout), density-independent factors (streamflow, water quality, and temperature), and co-occurrence of non-native trout species. This project is associated with a chemical spill from a train derailment and resultant NRDA settlement.

 

Back to top

 

Last updated: December 16, 2015
Northeast Region Fisheries Home
Northeast Region Home


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  | USA.gov  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA