The influence of ontogeny and prey abundance on feeding ecology of age-0 Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in southeastern Lake Michigan
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The influence of ontogeny and prey abundance on feeding ecology of age-0 Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in southeastern Lake Michigan
  • Published Date:

    2020

  • Source:
    Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 29(1)
Filetype[PDF-659.62 KB]


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    A shift towards oligotrophic conditions in Lake Michigan has led to concern that altered trophic pathways are leading to lower early life survival and recruitment for Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). This study evaluated ontogenetic shifts in age-0 Lake Whitefish diets and evaluated how feeding ecology and the amount of food eaten varied with prey abundance and composition at a site in southeastern Lake Michigan during 2014–2017. Although prey densities varied among years, cyclopoid copepods were overall the most abundant prey available. In turn, cyclopoids were the predominant prey item in diets each year, particularly for the smallest larval Lake Whitefish. However, there was a tendency for the importance of cyclopoids to decline somewhat in each diet index as fish grew and other prey such as calanoid copepods, Bosminidae, Daphniidae and/or chironomids increased in importance. High zooplankton abundance, especially high cyclopoid abundance, available to the small size groups of Lake Whitefish (<21 mm) in 2014 was associated with high food mass/fish, high number of zooplankton eaten/fish, and low incidence of empty stomachs compared with 2015–2017. As fish grew, the impact of food abundance on prey consumption diminished somewhat, indicating that the relationship between fish feeding ecology and the prey environment can change quickly with fish size during the early life period.
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