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Spatial distribution and diet of Lake Michigan juvenile lake trout

October 25, 2023

Most studies of Lake Michigan lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have focused on adults, with scant attention to juveniles (<400 mm). We explored the spatial distribution and diet of juvenile lake trout using U.S. Geological Survey September bottom trawl data (2015–2022) and stomach content information opportunistically collected since 2012 by various agencies using multiple gear types. Most juvenile lake trout in the September bottom trawl survey were caught at 37–64 m bottom depths. Length frequency data from the bottom trawl survey identified three size classes likely associated with wild juvenile lake trout age: < 85 mm (∼age-0), 85–170 mm (∼age-1) and > 170 mm (∼age-2+). Largest catches of wild lake trout < 170 mm occurred along a northeastern transect (near Frankfort, Michigan), whereas most > 170 mm were collected along southern transects. Mysis diluviana was the dominant prey for juvenile lake trout < 170 mm, and > 250 mm were primarily piscivorous, while 170–250 mm appeared to be a transitional period of switching from Mysis to fish. Species composition of prey fishes consumed by lake trout varied spatially and we found evidence of seasonal and annual diet variation within Grand Traverse Bay. Diporeia, once an important component of juvenile lake trout diet, appears to no longer be consumed by juvenile lake trout in Lake Michigan to any measurable degree. Continued research on the ecology of juvenile lake trout may provide insight into the effects of a changing ecosystem on juvenile lake trout diet and growth, thereby contributing to the effort to rehabilitate the Lake Michigan lake trout population.

Publication Year 2024
Title Spatial distribution and diet of Lake Michigan juvenile lake trout
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2023.102244
Authors Benjamin Scott Leonhardt, Ralph W. Tingley, Charles P. Madenjian, Lynn M. Ogilvie, Brian Roth, Jory L. Jonas, Jason B. Smith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70249773
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center