NPS Grants Support Leonard's Coaster Brook Trout Research
Efforts to restore the coaster brook trout population in Lake Superior are being bolstered by two National Park Service grants totaling $370,000. The funding will support Jill Leonard’s (Biology) continuing research at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. She is pictured front right working on a previous project.
“Coasters were depleted in the late 1800s because of logging, fishing and habitat problems,’” Leonard said. “State, federal and tribal resource management agencies would like to see their numbers bounce back. This fits into Pictured Rocks’ mandate for native and community species restoration and longtime conservation efforts that are linked to the cultural significance of heritage species and maintaining those populations. Coasters are also very popular with fishermen, so they have a recreational interest in restoration.”
Leonard has been researching coaster brook trout at Pictured Rocks since 2003. The new phase of her project will focus on the competitive impact of non-native species such as steelhead and coho salmon on native trout in the Lake Superior ecosystem. These exotic species were introduced in the mid-1900s after the coaster numbers dropped.
“We will remove the exotic salmonids from one stream and study the impact on the native fish and the entire stream community,” said Leonard. “Then we will compare that impact to a stream where the exotic salmonids haven’t been removed to determine the difference.”
The NPS grants will support the work of four graduate students and a research technician this summer. Leonard routinely involves undergraduate students and freshmen fellows in her projects as well and this will be no exception. The research will begin in full this month.