Biologists studying Lake Michigan forage fish have found the population has declined, according to a release from Michigan State University. Forage fish are small fish that larger predators rely on for food and are an important part of the Great Lakes food web.
Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated on the work to find that populations of five fish species were at historic lows. The survey also found that some forage fish species were smaller in average size, meaning they may not provide as much sustenance to predators.
The biologists can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the decrease because of nature’s inherent unpredictability. However, they are cautiously optimistic that fish levels and average size will go back up in 2013.
Image: Alewife (Credit: David Jude)