Artificial Reef Construction and use by three endemic Coregonid whitefishes in Bear Lake, Utah, USA
Tolentino, S.; Moon, M.
Recent drought (2000–2007) in the western United States has caused water levels in Bear Lake to drop to historic lows. Lower than normal lake levels in 2004 dewatered approximately 52, 609 m2, or an estimated 80% of the available rocky habitat in the lake (compared to the habitat available when at full pool). This rocky shoreline habitat is used for spawning by all three species of endemic Bear Lake coregonids: Prosopium spilonotus, P. gemmifer, and P. abyssicola. In October 2005, four rock reefs were constructed along the west side of Bear Lake in approximately 10 meters of water with the goal to enhance opportunities for spawning and recruitment of endemic coregonids, as well as provide a near shore fishing area for boat and ice anglers. We describe the procedures used to create the rock reefs and subsequent use of the reefs by endemic coregonids during 2006–2007. P. spilonotus used the reefs at more times of the year than P. gemmifer or P. abyssicola, but all three species used the rocks to some degree and especially during their respective spawning seasons. Although some of our results suggested the installation of the artificial reefs increased the preferred spawning habitat for endemic coregonids during drought, any future widespread installation of artificial reefs must also consider undesirable consequences, such as artificial reefs benefiting non-native species.