MSU researchers receive Chandler-Misener Award

Three MSU researchers from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife are part of a team that has won the Chandler-Misener Award.

Student holding lake trout
Researchers in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife are working to understand why natural reproduction of lake trout has been subpar after stocking efforts.

Three Michigan State University (MSU) researchers from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife — Lori Ivan, Cheryl Murphy and Joan Rose — and one graduate from the department, Benjamin Schmitt (now at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality), are part of a team that has won the Chandler-Misener Award.

The Chandler-Misener award was created in 1974 to honor D.C. Chandler and A.D. Misener, the International Association for Great Lakes Research's first presidents.

The award is presented to the authors of the “most notable” peer-reviewed paper in the current edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Judges touted the research team’s innovative approach, as well as the paper’s clarity in addressing the long-term challenges of lake trout stocking efforts.

“It’s truly an honor to receive the Chandler-Misener award, recognizing our hard work on this important topic,” said Murphy, an associate professor in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “I’d also like to recognize our colleagues on this project from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center.”

Natural reproduction of lake trout after continued stocking efforts has been subpar, and the team believes this is related in part to low thiamine levels in lake trout eggs.

Thiamine is an essential vitamin for energy, growth and development. It’s also necessary for the proper function of cells.

Thiamine is not naturally occurring in the body and must be taken in through food. Low thiamine levels in lake trout have both lethal and sublethal effects, including a decrease in prey capture success and an increase in predation mortality.

To examine these sublethal problems, the group developed an individual-based model to study lake trout from hatching until the fry stage, when trout start finding their own food. Fry are extremely vulnerable to predators at this point.

The model tracks a series of activities such as food consumption, respiration, growth and mortality of trout from hatch until fry grow to about 33 millimeters. This is estimated to be when fry begin to feed naturally, thus lessening the low thiamine issue.

The research team’s results show that low thiamine levels, in addition to predation, can drastically reduce lake trout in a given area, suggesting sublethal effects of low thiamine levels are having a larger effect than previously thought.

Ivan, the lead author, is a postdoctoral research associate, and Rose is the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

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