An Annotated List of the Fishes of the Western Basin of Lake Erie with Emphasis on the Bass Islands and Adjacent Tributaries


  • Thomas P. Simon Indiana University and F.T. Stone Laboratory
  • Charles Boucher Ohio EPA
  • David Altfater Ohio EPA
  • Dennis Mishne Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
  • Brian Zimmerman Museum of Biodiversity and Stream and River Ecology Lab, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH



Distribution, conservation status, habitat, Pisces


Fish assemblage structure has changed dramatically in the Western Basin of Lake Erie since Trautman’s revision of the Fishes of Ohio. Fish surveys near the Bass Islands and adjacent mainland tributaries documented fish faunal distributional patterns during the last three decades. Recent collections (n=1,719 sites) from 1982-2014 indicate that 123 fish species are extant and 27 species have been extirpated from the Bass Islands and nearby tributaries draining the western basin. Extirpation of Polyodon spatula, Alosa sapidissima, Moxostoma lacurum, and Sander glacum occurred; however, A. sapidissima and members of genus Oncorhynchus were introduced and unable to naturalize. Recent collection of A. fulvescens in Schoolhouse bay near Middle Bass Island in May 2012; Umbra limi populations on Middle Bass Island and Kelley’s Island; and Lepisosteus oculatus populations along the southeastern shoreline of North Bass Island are stable in Lake Erie despite increased eutrophication. The current Western Basin fish assemblage includes 107 native, 26 nonindigenous, and 6 alien fish species. Twenty-one native species have been extirpated from Lake Erie, while 6 nonindigenous species have not naturalized and have been extirpated. Six additional species known from within the Lake Erie basin have not been collected from the Western Basin during the study period and current status is unknown. Introduced non-indigenous and alien species are responsible for increased species richness including Neogobius melanostomus, Proterorhinus semilunaris, Salmo trutta, Carassius auratus, Cyprinus carpio, Ctenopharyngodon idella and four records for Hyphthalmichthys molatrix since 1981. Brief comments on distribution, relative abundance, and status are provided for each species. 

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