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Diet niches of major forage fish in Lake Michigan

January 1, 2007

A large complex of coregonine species historically dominated the fish community of Lake Michigan. The current species complex is simplified with one remaining coregonine, bloater (Coregonus hoyi), deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsoni), slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus), and two dominant invaders, alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). To better understand the diet relationships of the major offshore forage fishes now in Lake Michigan, diets of bloater, alewife, rainbow smelt, deepwater sculpin, and slimy sculpin were compared. The three sites, chosen to represent northern, central, and southern components of the lake, were sampled during spring, summer, and fall in 1994, and spring and fall in 1995. Forage fishes had diverse and variable diets, with niches differentiated by prey type or location. Diporeia hoyi, Mysis relicta, and zooplankton were the major diet items. The index of relative importance showed benthic (slimy and deepwater sculpins) and pelagic (alewife, rainbow smelt) feeding strategies with opportunistic bloaters incorporating both feeding strategies. Highest diet overlaps were between species of sculpin, and between large and small bloaters; both groups partitioned food by size. Though competition for food may be minimized by spatial segregation of potential competitors, the forage fish in Lake Michigan apparently partition food resources. Fishery management models incorporating food habits of pelagic forage fish would need to take into account diet variation associated with location and season. ?? 2007 E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

Publication Year 2007
Title Diet niches of major forage fish in Lake Michigan
Authors R. Douglas Hunter, J.F. Savino, L.M. Ogilvie
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70031702
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center