Research

My research addresses issues related to conservation and restoration of native fishes and their habitats.  Within this broad research agenda, I have recently focused on (1) age and growth of Muskellunge, Atlantic Salmon and Chain Pickerel, (2) feeding selectivity of Muskellunge and Northern Pike, (3) reproductive ecology of Muskellunge and Walleye, (4) use of emerging modeling techniques to identify relationships between the abundance of native and non-native fishes and habitat features at multiple spatial scales, and (5) effects of invasive species on population characteristics of native fishes 

Muskellunge egg, yolk-sac larvae, age-0, and juvenile muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) colleced or observed during studies of muskellunge reproductive ecology and habitat use in the upper Niagara River. Photo credits: Andrew Panczykowski, Kevin Kapuscinski, and Derek Crane
Egg, yolk-sac larvae, age-0, and juvenile Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) life-stages, collected or observed during studies of reproductive ecology and habitat use in the upper Niagara River.  Photo credits: Andrew Panczykowski, Kevin Kapuscinski, and Derek Crane

Muskellunge and Northern Pike Ecology and Management

Fisheries_June 2015

PDF of accepted manuscript: Crane et al._Fisheries_accepted

Article available at:  http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ngrIWqJSp7uPTfPqKCjZ/full#.VcDoFvkXHgR

Current projects:

1.  Use of hard structures for estimating age of fishes.  In my lab, we are currently investigating the use of hard structures to estimate the age of three species that support recreational fisheries.

a. Muskellunge (collaborating with Tim Simonson,Michael Rennicke, and Jeff Kampa, Wisconsin DNR; Dan Isermann, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Kevin Kapuscinski, Lake Superior State University; Jonathan Meerbeek, Iowa DNR).

b. Atlantic Salmon (collaborating with Kevin Kapuscinski, Lake Superior State University)

c. Chain Pickerel (Collaborating with James Bulak, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

Accurate and precise age estimation is essential for understanding population characteristics of fishes such as growth and mortality.  We are currently evaluating the use of hard structures for estimating age of Muskellunge and Atlantic Salmon based on samples from known age fish.  Hard structures from unknown age Chain Pickerel will be evaluated by comparing precision of estimates from multiple structures. After comparing ages estimated from different hard structures, growth and mortality will be estimated based on age estimates from the structures examined and compared to each other (Chain Pickerel) and estimates based on known age (Muskellunge and Atlantic Salmon). 

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Section of a fin ray from a Lake St. Clair muskellunge. Photo credit: Brad Utrup, Michigan DNR

2.  Effects of conspecific density on prey selection, time of first feeding, and capture efficiency by two predatory fishes.  (PI: Kevin Kapuscinki, Lake Superior State University, Co-PI’s: Derek Crane; Stephen Stehman, SUNY-ESF; Trevor Gronda, Lake Superior State University) 

I am collaborating with Kevin Kapuscinski on this experiment, which is being conducted in his lab at Lake Superior State University.  The objectives of the project are to (1) Determine if Muskellunge and Northern Pike feed selectively among four prey species (Bluntnose Minnow, Johnny Darter, Rock Bass, Yellow Perch) that have different anti-predator morphologies and behaviors, and (2) determine if prey selection, time to first feeding, and capture efficiency differ between predators in isolation and predators in groups of three.

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An age-0 Northern Pike capturing a Bluntnose Minnow during a feeding trial.  Photo credit: Trevor Gronda
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Co-PI Trevor Gronda conducting a feeding trial using age-0 Muskellunge. Photo credit: Kevin Kapuscinski

3.  Development of a predictive model of nearshore habitat use by native and non-native fishes in the upper Niagara River. (collaborating with Kevin Kapuscinski, Lake Superior State University; Susan Bergeron, Coastal Carolina University)

Fish assemblage and habitat data will be used to develop predictive models of habitat use by native and non-native fishes that occupy nearshore habitats.  Model outputs will be used to guide substantial conservation and restoration activities in the upper Niagara River.  

Variation in scale patterns of age-0 common carp (Cyprinus carpio) resulting from a genetic mutation. The top fish is commonly referred to as a
Variation in scale patterns of age-0 Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) resulting from a genetic mutation. The top fish is commonly referred to as a “mirror carp” and is characterized by having few scales.  Photo credit: Derek Crane
Age-0, golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) and common shiner (Luxilus cornutus), which are native to the upper Niagara River, were collected in the same location as the similar looking, but non-native rudd (Scardinius erythropthalmus).
Age-0, Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) and Common Shiner (Luxilus cornutus), which are native to the upper Niagara River, were collected in the same location as the similar looking, but non-native Rudd (Scardinius erythropthalmus). Photo credit: Derek Crane

 

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