Emerald shiners Notropis atherinoides were formerly common in Lakes Huron and Michigan, but declined during the 1960s as the exotic alewife Alosa pseudoharengus proliferated. The Lake Huron emerald shiner population was chronically depressed through 2004; however, we detected resurgence in emerald shiner density and biomass in Lake Huron during acoustic and midwater trawl surveys conducted during 2004–2006. Emerald shiners were not found during 2004, but by 2006 main basin density exceeded 500 fish/ha, biomass estimates exceeded 0.5 kg/ha, and emerald shiners contributed more to pelagic biomass than alewives or rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax. Length frequency distributions suggested that increased density was the result of two consecutive strong year classes in 2005 and 2006. Emerald shiner distributions also expanded from a focus in western Lake Huron in 2005 to a lakewide distribution in 2006. Emerald shiners occurred offshore, but were nearly always associated with epilimnetic surface waters warmer than 19°C. Resurgence of emerald shiners was likely a consequence of reduced alewife abundance, as they declined concurrently with alewife proliferation during the early 1960s. Return of this species may benefit native nearshore piscivores; however, benefits to Pacific salmonids Oncorhynchus spp. are uncertain because emerald shiners are smaller and still less abundant than historically important prey species, and they may be thermally segregated from salmonines.
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Vol. 34 • No. 3