Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Chris Luecke


Chris Luecke


Thomas C. Edwards


Phaedra Budy


Research designed to elucidate artificial reef efficacy in attraction and production is lacking. Delineation of the rock reef habitat, coupled with faunal patterns of substrate use within artificial and natural reef regions, will allow elucidation of the potential of artificial reefs to attract sport fishes, and function as surrogate natural habitat for the conservation of endemic fish species. We compared faunal assemblages and habitat complexity between artificial and natural reefs to access the efficacy of artificial reefs in conservation of the native community, and attraction of sport fishes.

We used hydroacoustics to map artificial and natural rock reefs within Bear Lake. We compared the accuracy of Visual Bottom Typer (VBT, BioSonics, Seattle, WA) software to observed substrate in three regions of varying slope and rock complexity within Bear Lake. VBT demonstrated an ability to distinguish substrates regardless of rock complexity and slope, although inaccuracies were present. VBT biased classification towards predominant substrate in the survey regions.

We compared benthic invertebrate and fish catch in natural and artificial reef regions to assess the utility of artificial reefs in fisheries management. We assessed the potential of artificial reefs to function as foraging habitat for endemic fishes within Bear Lake. We compared benthic invertebrate taxa abundances and diversity between one region of artificial reefs, and two natural reefs in spring and summer. The artificial reefs hosted prey consumed by endemic Bonneville whitefish and Bear Lake sculpin. We assessed the potential of artificial reefs to function in attraction of sport fishes, and conservation of endemic fishes. We compared differences in fish catch per unit effort (CPUE) and diversity on rock and soft substrate between one artificial and two natural reef regions. Sport fishes attraction to the artificial reefs was minimal. Winter cisco and whitefish used the artificial reefs similarly to natural reefs. Fall lake trout, crayfish, and yellow perch used artificial and natural reefs dissimilarly.