Coaster brook trout

Funded Research

Research at Michigan Tech wouldn't be possible without our individual and corporate sponsors. For example, this innovative project sponsored by Superior Ideas, our crowdfunding site.

Superior Ideas: Save a Spawning Site

Lake Superior coaster brook trout are at risk. This project worked towards saving this unique migratory fish, while training the next generation of scientists and educators in aquatic ecology and watershed dynamics.

Coaster brook trout were once common throughout Lake Superior basin tributaries and near shore waters, but the populations were wiped out due to over-fishing and habitat degradation. The Salmon Trout River, in Marquette, Mich., hosts the last known remnant breeding population of coasters in the area. The team conducted long-term research on the status and ecology of this population beginning in 2000. Based on annual assessments of coasters using stationary fish-counting weirs and visual counts of fish at spawning sites, the population appeared to consist of only a few hundred adults that ascended the river each fall to spawn.

Over the last decade, the Salmon Trout River has degraded due to land use and roads in the watershed causing erosion. Sand now covers the small section of stream-bottom cobbles where the majority of coasters once spawned, making the existing small population even more at risk of dying out. As sand continues to cover the cobbles and gravels where the coasters spawn, it also changes ecosystem dynamics; the project examined these effects as the sands accumulated in the river and studied the beneficial effects of removing the sands. In August 2012, the team installed a sediment collector to attempt to save the main spawning site. This configuration produced excellent results, trapping sediments moving downstream. The following year, the team removed sediment build-up at the spawning site downstream of the collector.  The collector now keeps the site clean on its own, allowing coaster brook trout populations a better chance of recovery.


Save a Spawning Site was one of many projects successfully crowdfunded through Superior Ideas.