Adirondack Fish Conservation: Safeguarding Summer Suckers, Understanding Minnow Diversity, Limiting Smallmouth Bass Invasions, Developing Climate-Adapted Stocking
Fishes of the Adirondack Park face numerous challenges. Summer Suckers are the only endemic vertebrate yet have suffered major range reductions, so we are analyzing their genome, body shape, and spawning timing to verify their uniqueness and current range. Warming patterns are expected to shift their spawning earlier, potentially intersecting with their recent ancestor (White Suckers) to create hybridization and reduced reproductive success. Minnows are more diverse in the Adirondacks, and our analyses suggest that they show three major distributional patterns that reflect post-glacial colonization and temperature preferences. We are analyzing data from hundreds of lakes to discern the rules that structure these assemblages with respect to temperature and diet preferences. At the same time, warm-water species such as smallmouth bass are invading Adirondack lakes as they warm and see increased fishing pressure. We are using genomic methods to evaluate the success of bass removal efforts, and to identify cost-effective removal methods. Brook trout are prized sport- and food-fish in Adirondack lakes, and are widely stocked to support fisheries. Stocking practices have not accounted for differential warming among lakes, or for differences among trout strains in thermal tolerances. We are testing the physiological tolerances of stocked strains of brook trout to formulate climate-adapted stocking recommendations, including the potential use of heritage strains drawn from wild native populations.