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Eye lenses reveal ontogenetic trophic and habitat shifts in an imperiled fish, Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi)

June 3, 2021
Stable isotopes recorded in fish eye lenses are an emerging tool to track dietary shifts coincident with use of diverse habitats over the lifetime of individuals. Eye lenses are metabolically inert, sequentially deposited, archival tissues that can open avenues to chronicle contaminant exposures, diet histories, trophic dynamics and migratory histories of individual fishes. In this study, we demonstrated that trophic histories reconstructed using eye lenses can resolve key uncertainties regarding diet and trophic habitat shifts. Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi), a threatened cyprinid, inhabits a single lake (Clear Lake, Lake County, California) and utilizes tributary streams for reproduction. Bayesian mixing models applied to δ13C and δ15N recorded in eye lenses uncovered ontogenetic diet shifts that corresponded with shifts in occupation of habitats providing spawning (tributary streams), rearing (littoral lake), and growth (pelagic lake) functions. The reconstruction of size-structured trophic and habitat information can provide vital information needed to manage and conserve imperiled species such as the Clear Lake hitch.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Eye lenses reveal ontogenetic trophic and habitat shifts in an imperiled fish, Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi)
DOI 10.1139/cjfas-2020-0318
Authors Matthew Young, Veronica Larwood, Justin Kinsey Clause, Miranda Bell-Tilcock, George Whitman, Rachel C. Johnson, Frederick Feyrer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Index ID 70226839
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center