DANE COUNTY: Surveys of Lake Waubesa Nearshore Fish Populations


Dane County Department of Land and Water Resources is sponsoring a project to assess the nearshore fish of Lake Waubesa as part of the county\2019s APM planning and implementation with the following goals: a) evaluate the fish species diversity and composition of sensitive species, evaluate factors that may be affecting these fish populations, and educate the public and local governments and recommend any needed actions that will protect the sensitive fish. Project deliverables include raw fish survey data from about 15 sites around the lake, and a report comparing results to previous surveys. Potential environmental factors affecting these fish will be assessed. This scope summarizes the project detail provided in the application and does not negate tasks/deliverables described therein. Data, records, and reports, including GIS-based maps, and digital images, must be submitted to the Department in a format specified by the regional Lake Biologist. If consultant is to provide final report, it is recommended that Grantee provide DNR Lake Coordinator with a draft for comment on report adequacy prior to making final payment to the consultant. DNR to receive both paper and electronic .pdf copies of the final report along with, or prior to submission of grantee's final payment request.

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Reports and Documents
Fish populations in Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa were sampled to identify species within various nearshore habitats and to assess potential factors that may affect species distributions. Lake Mendota and Lake Monona were sampled at 20 sites each in 2017 using wadable DC electroshocking gear and targeting smaller-bodied fish. Lake Kegonsa was sampled at 18 sites in 2019 and Lake Waubesa at 18 sites in 2020 using the same electroshocking gear. The surveys were also useful for reviewing the status of environmentally sensitive and uncommon species that were previously found in the lakes. With the exception of the tadpole madtom (Noturus gyrinus), the status of seven other small littoral zone species that had disappeared from the Yahara Chain of Lakes remain unchanged. None were found. The tadpole madtom was recently discovered at one site in Cherokee Marsh and at two sites in Lake Kegonsa. Other small nongame fish species, including the Iowa darter (Etheostoma exile), displayed a clear preference for cobble-gravel shoals. However, this habitat type is now uncommon in the lakes as most shorelines are armored with riprap and to a lesser extent seawall. Our data suggests that in addition to widely accepted environmental factors such as eutrophication, invasive Eurasian watermilfoil, and numerous piers, these small nongame fish species are also susceptible to sustained high water levels combined with shoreline armoring. The pattern is similar for all four lakes. Most littoral zones that are lined with boulder riprap and are primarily inhabited by green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis), juvenile smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and juvenile largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides).
Image used for the 2020 Story Map. Project associated with image is Surveys of Lake Waubesa Nearshore Fish Populations.
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Grant SPL39719 awarded