Improving reproductive success of native fishes

Great Lakes nearshore, rocky reefs are important spawning habitat for native fishes such as Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, and Cisco. However, habitat degradation and invasive egg predators negatively affect spawning success of these native fishes. We work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy to better understand the factors that influence reproductive success of native fish and develop and test methods to improve reproductive success through habitat improvement and reduction of invasive species like Rusty Crayfish and Round Goby. Our work also adds to our knowledge of the biology of these native and invasive species.

Smallmouth Bass population dynamics in northern Lake Michigan

Smallmouth Bass are an ecologically and economically important freshwater fish species. In collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, we study Smallmouth Bass population dynamics and movement in northern Lake Michigan. We have tagged and tracked Smallmouth Bass in the Beaver Archipelago, Waugoshance Point, and Grand Traverse Bay, building a long-term dataset to understand recruitment, growth, and long-distance movement. Our data set, and the additional research we conduct while maintaining it, contributes to management of the Smallmouth Bass fishery and to our understanding of factors such as habitat and invasive species on the fishery.
Potential graduate student wishing to pursue a Master of Science degree in Conservation Biology or Biology or a PhD in Earth and Ecosystem Science with an emphasis in fisheries ecology at Central Michigan University.

Accepted applicants will work with Dr. Tracy Galarowicz on researching different aspects of fish ecology and fisheries managements.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Galarowicz directly with a statement of interest and current CV. Successful applicants will have a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology or Fisheries (or related field). Possible start date for incoming students is summer or fall (start date negotiable).

If interested, please contact Dr. Galarowicz at

Current Students

Jake Kvistad Jake Kvistad
Ph.D. Student - Earth & Ecosystem Science
Gary Michaud 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology
Brett Yonker Brett Yonker 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology
Katherine Skubik Katherine Skubik 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology
Travis Taylor Travis Taylor 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology
Ryan Workman Ryan Workman 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology
Matthew GarvinMatthew Garvin 
M.S. Candidate - Conservation Biology

Former Students

Dana Castle - M.S. Conservation Biology (2018)
Thesis title: “Angler success in the St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) after period of restoration.”
Kristy Phillips - M.S. Conservation Biology (2018)
Thesis title: "Multistate probabilities of movement, survival, and recapture of Smallmouth Bass in a large, lentic system.”
Briana Skufca - M.S. Conservation Biology (2018)
Jason Buckley - M.S. Conservation Biology (2017)
Thesis title: “Monitoring and removal of the invasive rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) on native fish spawning reefs in Lake Michigan.”
Michael Rucinski - M.S. Conservation Biology (2017)
Thesis title: “Smallmouth Bass - potential control of Round Goby.”
Eric Calabro - M.S. Conservation Biology (2016)
Thesis title: “Effectiveness of critical Coregonid and Lake Trout reef spawning habitat restoration in northern Lake Michigan: Mitigating for environmental impacts.”
Jessica Loughner Bowser - M.S. Conservation Biology (2016)
Thesis title: “Lake Huron beach fish assemblages: temporal and habitat differences.”
Kevin Nevorski - M.S. Conservation Biology (2015)
Thesis title: “Distribution and habitat in Lake Michigan using multi-scale modeling.”
Krista Cole Robinson - M.S. Conservation Biology (2014)
Thesis title:  “Spatial and seasonal distribution of the invasive Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) on critical nearshore spawning reefs in northern Lake Michigan.”
Clarence Fullard - M.S. Conservation Biology (2014)
Thesis title: “Diet and energy pathway perturbations of Rockbass and Smallmouth bass in the Round Goby invaded Great Lakes tributaries.”
Gabriel Madel - M.S. Conservation Biology (2014)
Thesis title: “Examining the food web structure and dynamics of temperate river fish communities using stable isotopes and size spectra analyses.”
Laura Mathews - M.S. Conservation Biology (2014)
Thesis title: “Characterization of a distinct population of Lake Trout in Elk Lake (Antrim County), Michigan.”
Ashli Wilson - M.S. Conservation Biology (2014)
Thesis title: “Diet overlap among invasive Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) in western Lake Huron.”
Emily Dandron Martin - M.S. Conservation Biology (2013)
Thesis title: “A comparison of recent and historical time periods: changes in the smallmouth bass population of Waugoshance Point, northern Lake Michigan.”
Ryan Schiferl - M.S. Biology (2013)
Thesis title: “Factors influencing movement of yellow perch in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, and tributary streams.”
Andrew Briggs - M.S. Conservation Biology (2012)
Thesis title: “Fish passage through culverts in central Michigan warmwater streams.”
Nathan Barton - M.S. Conservation Biology (2011)
Thesis title: “A comparison of egg funnel and egg bag estimates of egg deposition and spawning microhabitat use of lake trout and native coregonids in Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan.”
Paul Atwood - M.S. Conservation Biology (2010)
Thesis title: “Environmental influences on fish assemblages in low order tributaries of Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron.”
Allison Strandburg Coulter - M.S. Biology (2010)
Fish assemblages surrounding a cave in the south branch of the Root River, Minnesota, with a focus on creek chub.”
Mark Kaemingk - M.S. Conservation Biology (2009)
Thesis title: “Population dynamics and movement of smallmouth bass within the Beaver Archipelago, northern Lake Michigan.”
Christopher Eilers - M.S. Conservation Biology (2008)
Thesis title: “Movement, home-range, and habitat selection of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy Mitchell) in Thornapple Lake, MI.”
Richard Damstra - M.S. Conservation Biology (2007)
Thesis title: “Stock assessment, spawning movement, and habitat utilization of Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the Manistee River system, Michigan.”
Marcy Knoll - M.S. Conservation Biology (2007)
Thesis title: “The growth and survival of larval walleye (Sander vitreus Mitchell) in Michigan hatchery ponds.”
Robin DeBruyne - M.S. Conservation Biology (2006)
Thesis title: “Age, growth, and relative abundance of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in Lake Michigan using fishery independent surveys from 1980-2005.”
Andrew Carl - M.S. Biology (2005)